Monday, July 25th 2005
Microsoft just launched its Virtual Earth map service. It’s pretty useful, at least for the US. Parts of the US (no idea how large a part) are zoomable to a much higher degree than with Google Maps. Also, the coolness factor is way higher for Microsoft’s service, thanks to the use of semitransparent boxes on top of the map, scroll-wheel zooming and a nifty little compass which can be used for auto-scroll type scrolling.
I did notice today though, while playing around, that Google Maps automatically resizes the map area to fit the browser window. This has maybe been the case for a long time, but I hadn’t noticed until today. Nifty.
The main advantages I see with MSN Virtual Earth over Google Maps are these:
hybrid mode is (IMO) a little clearer than Virtual Earth’s
labeled aerial photos. Also, when zooming in on the UK, London still isn’t visible at this level. Rather strange, seeing that places such as Weymouth (never even heard of it) are.
Another minor slipup is that the blue search area at the top isn’t semi-transparent when using Firefox. (It is in IE.) Checking the source code, it seems like all they would have to add to fix this is opacity: 0.90 for the ID #search_bg. This is the current CSS for the search box area:
All in all, though, Microsoft have produced a pretty good mapping service, and when it covers a larger part of the world, maybe even us Swedes can have some real use for it.
Edit: I never thought I would be giving Microsoft free PR on my blog, but I guess the times are a-changing.