MSN Rolls Out Virtual Earth Mapping Service
MSN's new service will offer aerial photos overlaid with useful data such as points of local interest, place names and businesses.Microsoft has its eyes in the sky. At Mondays "D" conference in Carlsbad, Calif., Microsoft founder Bill Gates introduced MSN Virtual Earth, a new component of the companys rapidly expanding collection of search technologies. The new service emphasizes aerial photography in conjunction with overlays of businesses and other kinds of locations for what is being dubbed, "an immersive search experience." According to one example provided by company officials, a user who is buying a house might want to look at traffic and weather patterns around the area for the past year. And the user might also want to find nearby dry cleaners and restaurants. MSN Virtual Earth would begin with an aerial view of the location on one map, with layers of businesses, relevant links, and other information overlaid on top of it.
In another example, a screen shows multiple searches stacked on the left. Advertisers links are shown under the search results, while an opened balloon offers details relevant to the location displayed. The information is all overlaid on a hybrid map, with streets, parks, and other points of interest labeled on the aerial imagery.