Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Microsoft announces Virtual Earth 3D

Microsoft announced the launch of Virtual Earth 3D today, as well as its Interactive SDK for software developers. It's a Microsoft product competing with Google Earth which is also free of charge since it released in 2005. But, they are quite different.

What’s unique about Virtual Earth 3D compared to the competition? Kevin Briody, of Microsoft's Online Services Group, outlined the distinctions in his email to partners:
  • Virtual Earth 3D platform runs within the browser. Google Earth’s 3D program is standalone and requires a separate download.
  • Google Earth 3D provides grey scale boxes of buildings. Virtual Earth 3D provides an immersive textured mapping experience with photorealistic textured buildings that are created by our Virtual Earth product team.
  • Google relies on developers to incorporate textures to buildings for their 3D mapping experience. Virtual Earth 3D has the capability of providing photorealistic textured buildings in-house.
  • All of VE 3D’s immersive mapping experience is created in-house, from the cameras themselves to the algorithmic program that develops the textured 3D models.
Specifically, when people visit Live Search (http://live.com), type a query into the search bar 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 exclusive bird’s-eye imagery) or three dimensional models with Virtual Earth 3D.

At launch, Microsoft’s 3D imagery is available for 15 cities in the States, including:
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Boston, MA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Dallas, TX
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Denver, CO
  • Detroit, MI
  • San Jose, CA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Houston, TX
Microsoft is continually adding new cities to Virtual Earth 3D and are actively working to expand to other countries in the near future.

Starting with the TerraServer project, Microsoft has worked in mapping areas for 10 years. The other products include Microsoft MapPoint and my favorite Microsoft Streets & Trips. The succeeded one is the #1 best-selling travel and map software that works well with GPS and PPC. I use it since 1998.

1 comment:

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