Microsoft Sync Framework - Fuel for Mesh

If you are following my posts and others' about Microsoft Mesh, you know that data synchronization across all your devices, connected and disconnected, is a very key driver behind Ray Ozzie's Microsoft Mesh strategy. More than just moving Microsoft into the era of software and applications that live in the cloud, Microsoft Mesh is all about having the data wherever you want, whenever you want it.

If you've heard of Microsoft's Sync technology it's likely you've heard about it on Ford's Lincoln Continental TV commercials. But Sync is much more than just moving mp3s between your car audio system and your Zune mp3 player. Microsoft made available some information and early software for Microsoft Sync Framework late 2007. Neil Padgett also gave a presentation and demonstration of some basic MSF capabilities in action at MIX 08.

Microsoft Sync Framework is a whole lot more than just the local folder to file server folder synchronization we've used for years. MSF takes the concept of sync and expands it to include the ability to share data everywhere, enabling collaboration in addition to working offline - more of the idea of content flow, than just copying data on a bunch of devices and databases. MSF data synchronization is not data format or protocol specific. MSG supports data while roaming, using a peer-to-peer type configuration, traditional hub and spoke for collaboration, and pushing data from one device to another. Sync Providers in MSF load data from a store, save it to a store and also resolve conflicts in the data. This could be to or from web storage, a database, or an end user device.

Microsoft implemented an RSS/Atom feed system called FeedSync. FeedSync wraps meta data around the RSS and Atom data to make synchronization easier. Meta data includes whether the RSS/Atom content is a change, update or delete, where the change occurred (which device or store), and when it occurred. This information is also then used for any needed conflict resolution.

Microsoft is expected to unveil more of the Mesh details at the upcoming Web 2.0 Expo. How much more they are disclosing is yet to be seen but I suspect whether it's at Web 2.0 or at later events, we'll hear a great deal more about Microsoft Sync Framework. Microsoft is currently saying MSF will be released to manufacturing Q3 of 2008. There's also a early look at MSF for Windows Mobile expected during that same quarter. We'll just have to wait and see if that timing holds true or not.

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