Microsoft's Live Mesh may be poised to emerge as a cloud-based development environment at the company's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in October.

Live Mesh was originally positioned as a web-based service for synchronising files and data folders across different devices. However, according to the agenda for the PDC, Microsoft now plans to provide a clearer view into how developers can build APIs (application programming interfaces) to utilise Live Mesh - which Redmond is calling a "cloud services and client platform" - to connect applications and services across various devices.

This is a slightly new positioning for Live Mesh, which Microsoft introduced in April. While the company introduced a developer component for the platform so applications could be created for it, Live Mesh was mainly presented as a consumer service for helping people synchronise different file folders and other data across different devices by putting them on the "mesh."

At the time Microsoft also did not refer to Live Mesh as a "cloud" platform, which has up until now been a term used to refer to services such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which provides on-demand computing and infrastructure for building and hosting applications without the need for on-premises software.

Though it's still unclear how far Microsoft plans to take Live Mesh, it definitely does seem to be shaping into something different from what was first advertised, said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"It's interesting to see them expanding it," he said. However, Hammond said he doesn't think the information Microsoft has provided so far about Live Mesh "sufficiently helps me understand what it is." He also think the company needs to distinguish more clearly between its Live Mesh and its Windows Live development platforms.

As presented now, Live Mesh does not go as far as EC2 in providing a full cloud-based infrastructure for running services, said Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with research firm Zapthink. For one thing, it doesn't focus on data and server virtualisation like most cloud-computing efforts, he said.

However, it does act like a cloud-based platform by abstracting "the management infrastructure for diverse Microsoft-based devices, applications and other technologies," Bloomberg said.

Microsoft has said Live Mesh also gives developers a place to centrally store data that different applications can take advantage of, which also is a component of cloud-based computing services.