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Virtual Earth 3D Beta Launched 188

Lord Satri writes "Microsoft has announced the launch of Virtual Earth 3D. There are numerous screenshots to be seen, as well as a Google Earth comparison from Spatially Adjusted. You can read the Google Earth Blog on why he thinks it's not a threat to Google. C|Net's coverage and the official press release provide lots of concrete details of the product. You can also read more from the development side or see the CBS report on Virtual Earth 3D. My main gripe: Windows and Internet Explorer 6/7 only. From the official press release: 'When people visit Live Search, type a query into the search box and click the "Maps" tab, they get their search results in a map context that offers the option to explore the area using two-dimensional views (aerial and bird's-eye) or three dimensional models with Virtual Earth 3D. This new technology compiles photographic images of cities and terrain to generate textured, photorealistic 3-D models with engineering level accuracy.'"
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Virtual Earth 3D Beta Launched

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  • You lucky ones... (Score:2, Informative)

    by robcfg ( 1005359 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:34PM (#16752775)
    After going through a huge number of windows it turns on that it cannot be installed in a spanish XP. So we'll have to wait (as usual) to try it. I hate this things... :(
  • sdk (Score:2, Informative)

    by warrior_s ( 881715 ) <kindle3@ g m a> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:47PM (#16752993) Homepage Journal
    From the blog, The SDK is here: []
  • Canada, eh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:55PM (#16753149) Homepage
    Just gave it a try. IE only, active X install (versus AJAX that google uses; wait, didn't MS start all the XMLHTTP stuff themselves?), which were annoying, but in the end, the quality of the satellite views for Nova Scotia (where I live) are an order of magnitude poorer than Google Earth.

    So, IE Only, Poor Canada support. I'll pass for now.
  • by omicronish ( 750174 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:06PM (#16753323)

    Every once in a while, Microsoft does something right ... or at least releases something cool. When I plugged in my address (which is kind of in the middle of nowhere), up popped 3 different viewing angles of my house. Pretty detailed shots too, and in one you could even see me mowing the lawn in the backyard! I had lots of fun with this one.

    Actually, I think it is a threat. I use Live Local/Virtual Earth almost exclusively. Here's why (adapted from a post I wrote in a previous story that didn't get much attention):

    • Live Local has better controls. It was the first to add mouse wheel scroll zooming, which Google Maps has added. (I don't mind the copying, though; the more the merrier!) I can't live without the middle-click, box zooming, though. From a globe view I can zoom to my house in a few seconds with Live Local's box zooming.
    • Directions between arbitrary points: Right-click anywhere to select the From and To points to find directions. Google Maps requires that I type in addresses. Problem is that I don't know the address of Paradise point at Mt. Rainier National Park [], and Google Maps can't seem to find it. Note that Yahoo Maps expands upon this by letting you add waypoints, but it's too slow for me.
    • Bird's Eye view []. Images are taken from an airplane, so detail is awesome.
    • I can perform up to 3 simultaneous map searches. This means I can see the locations of all Safeways, libraries, and CompUSAs on the same map []. Useful if you intend on going to multiple places when driving.
    • Live Local's direction finding seems more capable than Google's. I can find directions from Glasgow, UK to Palermo, Italy [].
    • Live Local has better sharing features. You can create collections of places and share them on Live Local. This might be a silly example, but some friends visited Seattle recently and wanted suggestions on places to visit. I made a collection of places for them []. You can add text, images, and URLs to places on a collection, and viewers of a collection can generate driving directions between any of its places (as well as any other arbitrary point). Google has auto-saving of locations (which was added after Live Local's collections), but as far as I can tell, it does not permit sharing or customization of locations.
    • UI is more customizable. Live Local's panels are removable, yielding more visible map area than Google Maps. You can't turn off the "example searches" pane in Google.

    Of course it has downsides:

    • Performance is worse than Google Maps. On my 1.7 GHz 512 MB RAM laptop, Live Local causes the fan to spin up far more often than Google Maps.
    • Color scheme is uglier in some places (compare Tokyo road view in both Google and Live).
    • Google Maps' satellite view is considerably more detailed and updated in some places, including Shanghai, Pyongyang, Ho Chi Minh City. MS appears to be countering this with Bird's Eye view, but the two are just not the same.
    • I'm not sure all its features are supported in Firefox 1.5 and below; can someone confirm? But it does work in Firefox 2.0.

    If you're interested in looking at satellite imagery, Google is the better choice. But if you want to find places and get directions to them, and share those places with people, I believe Live is far better.

  • Re:Opposite (Score:3, Informative)

    by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:20PM (#16753539) Homepage
    Or Osama will release an audio tape stating he loves this new product and even was able to find an image of himself mowing his lawn. Government agencies around the world will spend a few years going through Active X installations and configuration screens before they even start their "Where's Waldo" hunt giving bin Laden plenty of time to plan his next attack.
  • by Instine ( 963303 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:34PM (#16753763)
    This is NOT very cool.
    Its google earth (which was cool, until everyone realized its no more use than google maps). On a web page. BUT as you have to download a whole heap of crap, that makes it no better than an activeX wrapper, for the Google earth API.
    But what really f'ed me off is that it changed my home page to windows live!!!! Grrrr.
  • by maartynp ( 578542 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:17PM (#16762191)
    As I recall, MS's terraserver was the first freely accessible product many years ago followed by mapquest's "aerial views" (subsequently bought by MSN) then dropped from MSN (the aerial views part) Then Google came along and improved what those had had. Now MS has gone ahead by improving what either one of these has had --for now. So quit all this cry of "copying, copying, blah, blah, balh; my guy (gal) was first and thus better". The college team attitude is best left for college/uni students.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton