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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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  • by Salvance ( 1014001 ) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#16752431) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Windows only (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:16PM (#16752453)

    I tried to test this but it is for IE explorer only. So Google wins by default.
  • by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:20PM (#16752519) Homepage
    Why does Microsoft feel theatened by certain markets? I don't understand why they feel they have to compete with everything, even "markets" where there is little or no money to be made. How much money could Microsoft ever make from Virtual Earth? Why does Microsoft feel it has to compete in the games and music world when it is already making huge amounts of money selling software to 90 - 95% of the computer world?
  • Navigation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:21PM (#16752531)
    After playing around with this this morning I can't quite get the hang of the grab and drag navigation. In photo mode (or bird's eye view I guess) it appears to limit the grab and drag range to the actual photo loaded into the frame, and the only way to move outside that is to load another photo by clicking in some kind of grid containing too-small-for-clarity thumbnails.

    Maybe I'm wrong and didn't spend enough time with it, but that is a huge handicap, better photos or not. With Google Earth I can grab and drag to wherever. Half of what I want to find isn't tied to an address, it is much easier to find by following landmarks.
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:28PM (#16752677) Journal
    I see Virtual Earth as an application that excels in a select few areas, but in general has much less to offer.

    For example, it has nifty texture mapped buildings for a number of places, but what about the majority? Conversely, Google Earth covers a large part of Earth in quite good detail, but Virtual Earth not even my capital city. Additionally, GE has a large community behind it now, and the layer features provides an extensibility that could be compared to the extensions in Firefox.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:30PM (#16752709)
    Bill Gates (and by extension I suspect much of Microsoft) is very worred about missing the "next big thing" and being left in the dust. The history is that IBM gravely under estimated the PC revolution and handed it over to Microsoft, so Microsoft doesn't want to get shafted like they did to IBM. I agree this particular application doesn't seem very important, but Microsoft may be concerned in general about losing ground as an applications service provider. Apparently this new thing is based on ActiveX so personally I hope it is an utter failure.
  • by bmwm3nut ( 556681 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:53PM (#16753113)
    I forgot about the layering that the GE community can provide. Want to bet how long it will be until someone makes a layer in GE that reads the virtual earth data and redisplays it? I'm not sure how the layers in GE work, but I bet someone just needs to have a server the GE queries and then an automated ActiveX control that will grab the virtual earth data and send it back to GE.
  • by El_Smack ( 267329 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:02PM (#16753267)
    IBM didn't get shafted, and MS didn't poison the King to become King. IBM did make a grave business error of not recognizing the direction of the market and collapsed. MS correctly predicted the future, and did well. MS doesn't want to make the same mistake IBM did, so it competes everywhere.
  • Re:Reminds me of... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by saltydogdesign ( 811417 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:25PM (#16753613)
    It's called photogrammetry, and Microsoft did not come up with it, though they will no doubt be filing all sorts of horseshit patents pretty soon. []
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:47PM (#16753941) Homepage
    Why hasn't this been integrated into Microsoft's Flight Sim yet? You don't need to install 15GB worth of data, and the maps are always updated. Better graphics too I might add.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:58PM (#16762011)
    I find Windows Live Local search to just be smarter than Google Maps.

    Google Maps has no idea about neighborhoods. Search for "West Seattle", "Chinatown" or "North End". It also isn't particularly good at landmarks. Try searching for Mt Rainier or Mt Rushmore. Google Maps can't find any of them. Live Local does exactly what you'd expect it to. It can find West Seattle as expected, Chinatown pops up a div dialog asking which Chinatown you're looking for, North End asks Boston or Springfield. Mt Rainier it finds. Mt Rushmore it finds. Hell, it even corrects Mt Rushmoor.

    This is the big seller for me. Hotels near Mt Rainier and Pizza in West Seattle are much more useful than needing to search for hotels in each town around Mt Rainier national park, or filtering out all the pizza joints in the rest of Seattle.

    Also, Live Local found more pizza places in West Seattle than Google Maps did in all of Seattle. Granted, Microsoft is a Seattle-local company so maybe the data is better here, but I've just found it to be a superior experience.

    Live Local also has data overlays - most importantly up-to-date traffic data. I can put thumbtacks on the map and share that list with people. Check out to see what the direction they're moving in is.

    Google is still a better general use search than Windows Live is, but Live Local is the superior regional search.

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