Microsoft Debuts Mapping Web Service

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-04-10 Print this article Print

Microsoft will host its new MapPoint.Net, a SOAP/XML-based Web service that allows software vendors to embed maps, driving directions, distance calculations, proximity searches and other location functionality.

NEW ORLEANS –Microsoft Corp. as expected today launched its first commercially available Web service, MapPoint .Net, a programmable platform for mapping and location-based services. The company will host and maintain this SOAP/XML-based Web service, which allows independent software vendors, solution providers, carriers, portals and enterprises to embed maps, driving directions, distance calculations, proximity searches and other location functionality. In an interview at Microsofts TechEd conference here on Wednesday, Stephen Lawler, a product unit manager for Microsofts geography platform team, told eWeek that MapPoint .Net will be marketed as a transactional and a subscription-based model.
Under the transactional model, the lowest amount a customer would pay would be an annual fee of $15,000 that would give it 2 million transactions. Payment for usage on top of that would be determined according to a volume discount, Lawler said. While payment details for the subscription-based model had been determined, they were not immediately available.
A number of enterprises are already using the technology, including Expedia, Fourth Coffee Co., MSN Mobile and Zone Labs. The Redmond, Wash., software companys plan is to add a richer set of functionality to target the business and personal productivity space in version 2, which is due next year, and the enterprise with the version after that, Lawler said. "We are also guaranteeing 99.9 percent availability, with less than one hour of downtime a month. We are already handling several million transactions a day, and the system is designed to handle tens of millions daily as demand grows," he said. The MapPoint service was "a natural" for the subscription model and would reduce the cost for customers, allow frequent data updates, and make it easier for data to be synergistic with existing rich client applications, he said. The service itself, and the business model around it, could well find its way into upcoming Microsoft offerings like Office .Net, a hosted version of Microsofts next Office productivity suite, and Microsofts own consumer .Net My Services offering, Lawler said.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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