Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Virtual Earth, calling Side Street. Come in SideStreet. Over…

with one comment

[This blog entry was originally published here]

Perhaps it really is over!!

There was an interesting internal email thread within Conchango today which began with an email from Simon Knightley saying this:

I recently came across Microsoft’s response to Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth at http://maps.live.com/

If you select the 3D option and install the active X control, you get all the functionality of Google Earth without leaving your browser, with an easy to navigate interface.

Microsoft may not be product innovators, but they certainly know how to roll up their corporate sleeves and respond to the market.

Whilst I’m sure this is nice to hear for those at Virtual Earth it begs the question why it has taken such a long time for Simon (who happens to be a very smart, clued-up guy, by the way) to become aware of it. After all, it was released at least 9 months ago. Yet again Microsoft seem to be doing a very poor job of telling people about their Windows Live offerings although I heard on the QT today from someone internal at Microsoft that now they are into fiscal 2008 the marketing heat is going to be turned up.

In response to Simon’s email I forwarded a link to a collection I built recently that included this 3D view of Las Vegas that caused Rob Grigg to comment "This looks like flight sim online". The more interesting reply though came from Ciaran Hanway who had this to say:

Google Earth has Google Street view, which I think is infintely better for the voyeuristic among us:


The Geek in the video explains it all very well. You can zoom down to specially-photographed streets and have a rotating view of the street level. Only a few major cities have been photographed, but apparently, there are a lot of Google vans being spotted doing the rounds and taking photos.

Ciaran raises a great point. The viral mouth-to-mouth that accompanied Google StreetView’s release has helped to make it far more well-known and far more well-received than Virtual Earth 3D. That then got me thinking; what has happened to Microsoft’s like-for-like offering Sidestreet which they first brought to an unsuspecting public (wait for it) EIGHTEEN MONTHS ago. I suspect they are still planning to bring this but since Google beat them to the punch and released StreetView the game has changed a little and Microsoft need to do something even better or they might as well not bother. Hence, I suspect that when Sidestreet does finally get released it will look a lot different than it did 18 months ago and will probably include some aspects of one or more of the fantastic photo technologies Photosynth, Seadragon and HDView.



P.S. If driving around city streets takes your fancy then check out http://www.livederby2007.com/. Perfect Friday lunchtime filler if you happen to be somewhere other than in the pub. If you liked Pacman back in the 80s then you’ll love this.



Written by Jamiet

August 14, 2007 at 2:30 am

Posted in Live Maps

One Response

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  1. True, many of the technologies in Virtual Earth appear to be much better than Google Earth. And the fact that Microsoft is pretty lame at making ads that really show how their products/services are better than their competitors.
    But I have to admit, Google Street View is a finished product. Unlike Microsoft’s Preview Live Local thing, it works quite well, is rather polished and easy-to-use, and it just works. So I won’t fault the publics’ view of Google Street Views there. Compared to Street View, Microsoft’s offering kind of sucks. I’m hoping that Microsoft will at least offer a better panoramic view of street area, in a full 360 view. In an immersive way. And offer more cities at the start, and a higher resolution view, to meet and surpass Google’s offering.
    Of course, Microsoft has a long way of making Live Maps a real contender. That includes updating images in the U.S., and all over the world.


    August 14, 2007 at 8:00 pm

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