Virtual Earth – Now available for Commercial Use

Steve Lombardi’s VE Session has just finished and contained some cool announcements.

Now available for commercial use.

First and foremost, VE is now available for commercial use. The nitty-gritty details are available from the virtual earth developer site ( but, in essence, if you leave the What and Where fields visible, you can use the control provided for a commercial site for free. In Jan 2006, there will be an option to pay for use and remove those controls.

Steve’s working on a demo site for this technology called – catchy huh? It’s not live yet, but when it is, it’ll allow you to mark a spot anywhere on the earth (or, more accurately at the moment, anywhere in the continental US) as a “significant site” and decorate it with the metadata to say why.

More info on current features

Steve explained how the Locate Me feature works. It finds all of the WiFi hot spots it can (whether or not it can connect to them) and their signal strength. It looks up their MAC address on a database they have server-side and does a triangulation to work out your location to within “50 to 100 feet”.

There was another feature of the current release that I hadn’t twigged to – the ability to email or blog from your scratch pad. Check it out. It’s pretty neat.

Beta 2 – Coming Soon

I mentioned above that the data are only available for the US. This one of the things that will be remedied in the next release (called beta 2 and due out “this fall”). The new features of VE in this release that Steve disclosed today are:

  • Eagle Eye image view – photos taken from fairly low altitude at a 45° angle (as opposed to the 90° that the imagery currently uses). This makes for a really neat perspective view.
  • User pushpins and collections
  • Improved aerial and satellite imagery (of the 90° kind)
  • Driving directions
  • New content types – Traffic, Movies etc
  • Mobile – send to phone. This looks like you’ll be able to send details of a location or locations to your mobile (or someone else’s). Imagine being able to send a “meet me here …” SMS.
  • The big one (for me) is the geographic expansion – currently planned to be England and perhaps some more of Europe. More and more data will come on line as the team source and massage the data.

 VE and MapPoint Web Services – better together

Today, VE and MWS are a great team (geolocate and address with the MWS API and chuck it up on VE, for example). In January, it will be even easier to combine their strengths as they will pretty much be merging around the time of MWS 4.0.

Useful Sites – check out the gallery of VE applications – this is a testbed where you can play with the whole VE API. Well worth a look.



Comments (10)

  1. Taylor says:

    Can you please give me 1 reason why I would use this over Google Earth? Your images are older then dirt…

    That is my old house… It had just been built in that picture and I lived there ohh… 11 years ago. What a joke, look at that same address now (in GEarth), there are thousands of homes around it now. MSN this is a joke, you guys are coming too late into these markets.

  2. Codputer says:

    I’ve heard that VE will not update their images of Canada? Is this true? I hope not, the satellites don’t turn around at the border!

  3. Steve Lombardi is showing the developer world what Virtual Earth can do for them: Check out the…

  4. Steve Lombardi is showing the developer world what Virtual Earth can do for them: Check out the…

  5. The MSN Developer Center is now live (did I ever think I would actually utter those words! How,…

  6. The MSN Developer Center is now live (did I ever think I would actually utter those words! How,…

  7. Andrew Coates details some of what Microsoft’s Steve Lombardi shared about upcoming goodies for Microsoft’s Virtual Earth and its API.

    (via Spatially Adjusted)

    If you want to see the local area, Via Virtual Earth guy Dr. Neil built an app.

  8. Brent says:

    The images in some areas might be older than dirt on MSN, but at least they are high-res images unlike the low-res blur at Google (for many of us who don’t live in large cities.)

    I mean, my town only has 200,000 people in the area, but half of it is a big blur in Google.

  9. kazza says:

    This of course being the direct competition with Google Maps. This will learn me to check my email at 2am! Found the reversed scrolling zoom frustrating as a Google Earth user. Like the automatic overlay of features over the photography views, handled slightly better than Google. Only looked at a couple of places, it’s a pity they both only had black and white images at the higher resolutions (but at least they were there).

    Going back to bed now!

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