Gavin O’Malley at Online Media Daily:
Microsoft is expected to go live later today with a local version of its Windows Live service, according to an analyst briefed on the initiative.
Microsoft Windows Live Local, powered by Virtual Earth, will allow users to open a satellite-based map image of a city and a bird’s-eye view of specific buildings–all in a single screen. Rather than relying on satellites to capture images from the sky a la Google Earth, Microsoft’s new service is using low-flying airplanes to capture its images.
Juan Carlos Perez has more details at InfoWorld:
The company hopes the new service will provide a significant boost to its local search service on the MSN.com portal, which competes against Google (Profile, Products, Articles) Inc., Yahoo Inc. and others. It currently offers aerial and satellite images from Virtual Earth, but Windows Live Local will take the aerial imagery to another level.
Using images and technology from Pictometry International Corp., a specialist in this area that signed a licensing deal with Microsoft earlier this year, Windows Live Local will give users images of a much higher resolution and quality than Virtual Earth. Users will be able to zoom in much closer and also tilt the view to see buildings and streets from different angles, and not just directly from above. Virtual Earth is able to do this, but Windows Live Local’s ability is more sophisticated and extensive.
As Virtual Earth is today, Windows Live Local will be integrated with MSN’s local search index, to complement its business listings, maps and driving directions with aerial images. Windows Live Local will also have what Microsoft calls “community features” to let users share, save and annotate Windows Live Local images.
According to article, Kelsey Group analyst Greg Sterling who saw a presentation of it by MSN Local Search General Manager Erik Jorgensen says “It will make [MSN local search] very competitive.” I’d say that was an understatement as far as the imagery goes. Jorgensen has some sample screen shots here and Sterling provides a brief review on the Kelsey Group blog.