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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 5, 2007 at 10:39 AM

Google vs. Microsoft maps

I don’t want to rag on Microsoft all day.

I’m actually feeling kind of sorry for the folks in Redmond, after seeing the reception Google Maps is getting for a new sharing/mashup feature launched last night.

Google Maps new features look great, but they’re playing catch-up to Microsoft’s Live Maps, which has long let people create and share a collection of map locations.

Microsoft announced a sparkly new upgrade of Live Maps on Tuesday and nobody seemed to notice. You’d think the cool kids in the Valley would have at least talked about the addition of Firefox support of Live Maps’ superior 3D mapping or the ability to use RSS to subscribe to a map collection.

Coolest of all is a feature that lets you drag a cursor around any place on the globe and have Live Maps calculate the area. With a few clicks you get an estimate of the size of your lot, your city or Zimbabwe.

More developer tools are still being developed and will be released in about two weeks.

Microsoft also has another great, non-techie tool for embedding maps into blogs. Its LiveWriter blog composition tool sets the standard plugging in a map with ease.

But Google’s got the mojo nowadays, so it’s new map services are being heralded as the great revolution. Om Malik noted right away that Microsoft’s had similar collections, but Live Maps isn’t getting much mention in today’s coverage – even PC World didn’t say anything about Microsoft’s similar features.

This doesn’t really matter for average folks. They’re benefiting from the Microsoft-Google feature race, regardless of which company gets the better P.R. Still, it’s got to be frustrating for the Live Maps team.

(I wonder, though, if Microsoft’s getting dissed because people don’t like the funny pushpin that Live Maps uses to pinpoint locations. Google also has a weird looking pointer – did they get it from Ikea? – but Live’s pin seems to obscure more of the map. How about a semi-transparent 3D pushpin instead?)

Comments | Topics: Google, Microsoft

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