Speculation on Microsoft Plans for “Google Earth killer”

The first time I saw Google Earth and wondered about similar applications, I thought about Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS). As a pilot who frequently uses MSFS to maintain flight skills, I am quite familiar with the flight simulator. Even though MSFS uses a more programmatic approach for showing scenery detail, the views of the Earth can be amazingly realistic and, with some add-on satellite and aerial photography, MSFS can look more real than Google Earth’s views. I worked for 20 years in the computer graphics field doing work for NASA and the DOD primarily doing simulation (space, robotics and flight simulations). The evolution of computer graphics technology and how flight simulation and gaming technology have advanced the field is fascinating to me. You see, my passion about Google Earth is not just because it looks cool. I’ve been watching for signs about what Microsoft would do to compete with Google’s 3D application.
Well, an Alan Glennon from the University of California at Santa Barbara has just released his observations. Alan works at UCSB’s Department of Geography and has his own blog called Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes. Alan has written an interesting article called “Will Microsoft have a Google Earth?“. He points to a job post at Microsoft for a “program manager to lead a project integrating their flight simulator engine with Virtual Earth“. Alan speculates how Google can compete with Microsoft when it combines its gaming development skills with its dominance in the operating system software domain. He speculates whether Google might buy its own gaming company. Alan also says he’s watching the evolution of KML which is a crucial component of what makes Google Earth so valuable. Those of you interested in the strategic positioning of Google Earth verses future competition from Microsoft should definitely give this one a read. Alan gives some insightful thoughts about possible directions.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

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