MSN Virtual Earth

Just last week I finally got around to writing about Google Earth, and then what should happen but my own company ships MSN Virtual Earth!

Like the Google product, its a fabulous piece of software.

The MSN product, ironically, is a web product. While the Google product is a client that you have to download to your PC. (shouldn’t that be the other way around?) Personally, I prefer the web-based product. It makes it a whole lot more useful, as it just runs everywhere. The Google product was unable to run on my PC at home because my graphics card was too old.

The MSN product is also just a lot more thought out in terms of usability and also for being useful for really finding things. To use it, first, put in the addresses that are relevant to you (home/work/whatever). Then, just type what you are looking for, like “pizza”. Bing- you can see all the pizza joints near your addresses. And its really smart too – it remembers all your locations so that when you come back later, you don’t have to retype your address!

The MSN product does lack the whizzy “fly” feature, which is no doubt why the Google product requires such a heavy duty graphics card. So, I miss flying. But when it comes down to it, flying is neat, but again doesn’t help you do anything really that useful. The MSN map is essentially a “flat” earth, while Google is rounded. I’d expect MSN to improve on this in the future to give you more and better options.

Anyway, both of these products are really really cool. These are going to change the way we do address lookups. Both still lack decent driving directions, as far as I can tell, so Yahoo! is still in business for a while.

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