Check out the ‘Near Me’ & aerial features on results seach.msn.com beta (I’ve only tried out the Seattle and Redmond areas, not sure what the coverage is for the beta…). I’ll update with links to any Microsoft bloggers who know more. (updates already, US only for the beta…see below).
“Catching up with rivals Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. on Monday unveiled an improved search service that delivers results tuned to users’ location.
MSN Local Search delivers both the listings of local sites and a map that includes virtual pushpins indicating each for each location. It was expected to be available as a “beta” service starting late Monday at http://search.msn.com.”
“MSN Virtual Earth, which Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates previewed in May, adds new tools to a search feature called Near Me that lets people get search results tailored to a geographic location.
The new tools will show results from city- and region-specific White Pages and Yellow Pages directory information. For example, a local search on “auto mechanics” will display listings of nearby mechanics, repair shops and towing companies. Each result will be shown as a numbered pin on a corresponding map from Microsoft MapPoint Web Service, and aerial images from TerraServer-USA will appear when available.”
“MSN Local Search will later be enhanced with the launch of MSN Virtual Earth, a new service that will let users superimpose driving routes, places, and weather information on maps and satellite images. MSN Virtual Earth should become available by September, Microsoft said last month.”
Microsoft press release, confirming US-only beta:
“Starting today, consumers in the United States will see a new Local category added to the MSN Search options on MSN.com. When consumers search for local information, they will receive results from city- and region-specific White Pages and Yellow Pages directory information. For example, a local search on “auto mechanics” could bring up listings of nearby mechanics, repair shops and towing companies.
If your looking to follow MSN Local Search progress / news, you should check out Chandu Thota’s blog from the Microsoft MapPoint team (they develop MSN Virtual Earth, who are now part of MSN Search)
“Kudos to the MapPoint/VirtualEarth and MSN Search folks for getting this out the door. My first test was trying a search for “pizza” in my area. I decided to figure out how to specify my location with more accuracy. Come to think of it I’m not sure how it even figured out to look in Seattle. Anyway I followed the link from the phrase How do I change my location? and saw that I can specify my city, state and zip code in the settings page which is stored in a cookie. “