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MSN Virtual Earth to take on Google...wow!

Microsoft sends news today that founder Bill Gates has announced a MSN Virtual Earth service is to debut in the summer. The service is promised to provide:

* Satellite images with 45-degree-angle views of buildings and neighborhoods
* Satellite images with street map overlays
* Ability to add local data layers, such as showing local businesses or restaurants

The service will allow users to choose from a number of different data types plus allow people to contribute their own information. The announcement came today at the D3 conference happening this week.
[ Via SearchEngineWatch ]

The "Eagle Eye" view looks absolutely stunning! :eek:

More info from John Battelle:

Today at “D” Conference in Carlsbad, CA, Microsoft founder Bill Gates presented his vision of MSN Virtual Earth, an exciting new component of Microsoft’s Search vision that gives consumers a deeply immersive search experience where they see what it’s like to be in a location and explore what they can do there.

MSN Virtual Earth uses location as the way in which people interact with the information on the web so that they can more easily find, explore and plan activities relevant to that location.

· For example: Say you are buying a house and want to look at the traffic and weather patterns around that house for the past year. In addition, you want to find nearby dry cleaners and restaurants. MSN Virtual Earth would let you view that information on one map, layering each piece of information you request and giving links and more details about those items.

MSN Virtual Earth will provide a core set of reference points such as maps, aerial imagery, photos, consumer and business directories, and ratings and reviews. In addition, MSN Virtual Earth will allow the broader community of consumers and businesses to contribute their own location-specific information to create an always expanding, dynamic and relevant local search experience.

We did not share the entire feature set for MSN Virtual Earth today but some of the key capabilities that we showed include:

· Imagery – satellite maps and a unique 45-degree-angle view of buildings and neighborhoods
· Hybrid Maps -- street maps overlaid over satellite maps
· Full-bleed Map Views – a nearly full screen map that users interact with
· Scratch Pad – a online clipboard for customers to perform multiple searches and plan their activities

The first release of MSN Virtual Earth is expected to be available sometime this summer. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like a screenshot of MSN Virtual Earth.
Looks like it's up a little early. ;)

Bear in mind that there's still testing going on, so things might be shaky until the Monday morning launch. I'm not sure if eagle-eye view is available yet...I don't see it in my area. The satellite imagery zoom levels are nice though. I can count the number of cars on the map and even see what colors they are. :)

Dive in: http://virtualearth.msn.com/

Other fun stuff:
- Roll the scroll wheel on your mouse while hovering over the map.
- "You can install Location Finder to display your current location on a Virtual Earth map by using Wi-Fi technology. If you do not install Location Finder, or if your computer does not support Wi-Fi, Virtual Earth can attempt to find your location by using the Internet Protocol (IP) address of your computer. This method is less accurate. To learn more, see Use Locate Me."
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I understand that it's beta but it's got ALOT of work to be done if it's to catch up w/ google. I was excited by your pics, but I'm really let down by it. The GUI needs a complete overhaul IMHO.

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