Microsoft’s Virtual Earth update is a stunner

Blogging Microsoft Virtual Earth (aka “Live Local”) is not really part of the mandate of Ogle Earth as long as it remains a 2D mapping application, but some aspects of the version that went live last night have a bearing on Google Earth.

  • First, the UK imagery: As Ed Parsons and other people have commented, it is superb, besting Google’s in those UK spots I’ve checked — if not in resolution, then in the quality and consistency of the post-processing. It will be interesting to compare future datasets if (okay, when) Microsoft releases its 3D virtual globe.
  • The functionality of the scratchpad has improved dramatically. It took me no time at all to annotate a few places, even add an image, and share them publicly as a collection, like so. The scratchpad is nothing less than a geospatial version of Google’s Notebook, and it is so easy to use that my parents would have no trouble att all creating their own mashup and sending a link to friends.

    Google has several options available to it as it responds in this competitive space. It could make Notebook geospatially aware, so that you can annotate both URLs and physical spaces in Maps and Earth; it could also leverage Google Base, making it easy for users to save or publish geospatial database objects such as annotated placemarks or georeferenced photo collections from within Maps and Earth (including private collections); or it could repurpose Google Pages, perhaps in combination with Google Base, providing templates that make a user’s collected geospatial content easy to browse by others.

I think this is going to be an interesting summer:-)

10 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Virtual Earth update is a stunner”

  1. I notice as well that Microsoft’s map doesn’t seem to suffer from the “rogue roads” that appear on Google’s map – at least in London. Look at N6 5PT – it is on Langdon Park Road but Google Earth and Maps have it on the (fictional) Vachell Crescent.

  2. I’ve thought for awhile that Microsoft had the most obvious rationale among the big boys for pushing into geospatial–to energize their Office franchise and be a leader in business data visualization. Instead, a lot of us are content with our Office 2000 package since the only things we seem to be missing are more ways to make bad charts. And that SQL Server has no native spatial capabilities in 2006 is puzzling, especially given that even the freebie Oracle Express package comes with Locator (allowing one to store spatial geometries).

    But if they come up with a virtual globe with photorealistic 3-D urban landscapes and with easy (I mean real easy) integration with Excel and Access, that would change the game right quick.


  3. Just recently Google erased one trap street (one of the copyright easter eggs collected by the OpenStreetMap people) in London. It was a street that we mapped at Tagzania, and documented in our blog: now compare the screnshots from March, and the current imagery. Hey! they erased that diagonal!

    I would like to think that it’s because of the Tagzania blog post, cause it was also mentioned at other sites (Googlemapsmania, for instance), but I don’t know. Anyway, we have more, another one detected by the

    OpenStreetMap people, and this mentioned by Chris Brake here.

  4. Basingstoke (where i live) is hi-res – whereas , it isnt on Google Maps.

    however, i find the speed of this microsoft tool to be quite slow , and the interface to be more cumbersome than google maps.

    i dont see myself switching anytime soon.

  5. You can use the Virtual Earth imagery inside World Wind which is much faster. World Wind has MS’s permission and blessing to use the imagery (something google frowned on allowing) the plug-in is here.

  6. So what we really need to compare now is the product’s ease of installation of GE and World Wind..

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