Ok, this isn’t a serious business recommendation. But, I sure wish the cool data Microsoft has been generating for Virtual Earth could be combined with Google Earth. Microsoft’s Bird’s Eye views, quality aerial photography, and auto-generated 3D buildings are really nice to look at. It’s just too bad the Virtual Earth user interface isn’t better. Microsoft has been spending an enormous amount of money acquiring the technology, buying the airplane time, and the computing resources to process and host their imagery. And, the results are really spectacular. This week, Microsoft released a ton of new imagery, and 60 new cities with 3D buildings. Since they were good enough to capture the Raleigh, North Carolina area – where I live – with new aerial, Bird’s Eye, and 3D buildings, I decided to make a little video showing how nice this new data looks. Some important notes:
- Using a 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator 3D mouse makes using Virtual Earth much better. I rarely used Virtual Earth until they started supporting it. Microsoft needs to improve the user interface for non-SpaceNavigator owners – or they need to give everyone a SpaceNavigator for Christmas!
- The Bird’s Eye views in the 3D mode of Virtual Earth are really cool. The white rectangles show you available photos, and you just click to load them up. Notice you can click the rotation buttons to get different angled views.
- The upload process compresses the video so it doesn’t look as good as when you view it on your screen. Also, the video capture process loses some frames, so it actually updated a bit more smoothly – at least on my computer.
So, here’s the video I’ve made of Virtual Earth showing Raleigh, North Carolina:
Thanks Microsoft! Now, would you pretty please create an API for your data for Google Earth?