[This post has been updated with information on Microsoft's/NORAD's and Google's Santa Trackers.]
NORAD is again partnering with Microsoft this year to power its popular Santa Tracker, after first switching from Google to Microsoft last year to do so.
The NORAD Santa Tracker, which is now live, is a showcase this year for Internet Explorer.
The site not only will “track” Santa’s journey around the world during Christmas, but also currently has many interactive features. Such features include a recreation of Santa’s village that provides access to videos such as those of NORAD tracking Santa — aka “Big Red One” — on his test flight, and holiday music. There’s also a new game each day and the ability to interact with NORAD Tracks Santa Command Center via Skype.
The site is touch enabled and on Dec. 24th, “when NORAD starts tracking Santa, you will be able to follow his journey on the 3D globe and pinch and zoom your way to his many destinations,” Microsoft says.
NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been offering the Santa Tracker program for more than 50 years and last year switched from using Google’s tools to Microsoft’s for reasons it declined to disclose.
Last year, Microsoft used the opportunity to highlight the capabilities of its Bing Maps, as well as its Windows Phone and Windows platforms.
Google, meanwhile, has its own competing Santa Tracker, which it says will go live on Christmas Eve. [Update Dec. 4: The tracker is now live. And here's Google's blog post about it, as well as a Chrome extension for it.]
It will be interesting to see if the two sites show Santa going on different routes, as apparently happened last year. I’ve asked both Google and Microsoft whether they’re working together to make sure that doesn’t happen this year. A Google spokeswoman and a Microsoft spokeswoman each said her company does not have any news to share about that at this time.
But Stefan Weitz, director of search at Microsoft’s Bing, tweeted this out earlier this year:
— Stefan Weitz (@stefanweitz) November 7, 2013
So there is hope.