Monday, November 06, 2006

Microsoft launches 3-D maps for Web search

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. said on Monday it introduced three-dimensional maps of 15 U.S. cities in an effort to beef up its Web search offering to better compete with market leader Google Inc.

Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D compiles photo images to generate photo-realistic 3-D models of buildings and landscape in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle and Dallas.

Trailing Google in the market for Internet search, Microsoft aims to drive traffic to its search services with a slew of features like local search, or maps.

"Local search is one of the fastest-growing categories online today, and adding features like 3-D will only help move the category further ahead and help Windows Live attract more customers and advertisers," said Steve Berkowitz, Microsoft's senior vice president in a statement.

Microsoft said it will offer advertisers the ability to display ads within the maps with virtual billboards above buildings or on the side of roads. The company also said it expects developers to pay fees to use the maps.

The company said its software is superior to Google Earth, a competing 3-D map technology, because Virtual Earth 3D displays realistic images of buildings instead of gray boxes. Microsoft's maps can also be accessed through a Web browser and does not require a separate application.

© Centre Of Discovery