I posted some time ago about the cool new features in MapPoint 2006. I also said it was set to be released in Q1 of 2006 which the end is creeping up quickly, so what's the scoop? Well, I just installed the latest build, so you want to know what I know?
First off, when can you get it? Release to market (RTM) is still set for March. Which means you'll be able to pick it up at Best Buy in May. I guess RTM means start the CD stamping. Additionally, there is a software assurance discount running for MapPoint 2004 that if you buy SA now you get the free upgrade to 2006. Its a screaming deal and worth at least asking your MS account executive about.
What's up with the delay? Why are we always late releasing products? (To make them better) Because we're adding A TON OF MORE DATA FOR EUROPE - it would seem our European counterparts are always snickering at being the red-headed step child (squeezing the piss) - we delayed the release. I believe our European friends will be happy to know that Eastern Europe is going to be included. EU, EU, EU (futbol worthing chanting). If there is anyone reading this blog from a non-EU country that wants to know when their data will be in MapPoint, you may have to convince your polit bureau to join the EU. If you're on the polit bureau let me know if you'd be willing to license us your data and maybe we can work something out.
What about an Australian version? I love you Australians and your enthusiasm for MapPoint. I've really been pulling for you, but again there won't be an Australian version of MapPoint. South America (Brasil/Brazil) neither.
Is it just another data update? There is more than just a data update in MP 2006; however, most of it is via the user interface and not focused in the APIs. There was talk about rewriting the product in managed code and improving the API integration but we couldn't find time - the developers share time with other products. Improvements include better support for GPS devices (including shipping with a GPS sku), integration with Windows Live Local and a night time map style (like the one in MWS). Additionally, all of the driver guidance you see in S&T 2006 is now in MP 2006. The "locate me" feature from Windows Live Local is included which locates you based on wireless networks and reverse IP lookup - no API. 🙁
In fact, the only changes to the API are that the Location object supports two new properties: Latitude and Longitude. The MapStyle property now supports a road map style for low light conditions: geoMapStyleNight.
And, of course, a data refresh. 🙂
Still a pretty sick product, but I agree, tough to work with in managed code and definitely not suitable for a server. Which reminds me - I've gotten alot of flame mails about installing it on a server - neither MapPoint 2000, 2002, 2004 nor 2006 are server products. We don't build them for the server, nor do we test them on a server. PLUS, if you've got them running on the server you're in violation of your user agreement! Ouch. It says so in the license agreement. Now, using the ActiveX control, there are ways to distribute a custom application so that server-based custom applications can be handled, but everyone who accesses the application must have a local copy of MP licensed and installed.
Didn't mean to end on a downer. Besides, if you've got a server-based application you should use MapPoint Web Service or Virtual Earth.