From the Microsoft press release Microsoft Introduces New Version of Windows Live Local we learn

REDMOND, Wash. — May 23, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the third release of Windows Live™ Local, the company’s online local search and mapping service that gives people the ability to quickly find maps, directions and local search information that is layered on top of rich, immersive aerial photography.
New Sharing Capabilities

The following new capabilities in the online service enable the seamless sharing of localized knowledge:

Real-time traffic flow. Customizable driving directions are now even more useful with the addition of real-time traffic flow and incident reporting provided by This functionality will be available only in the U.S. release.

Collections. Social networking functionality allows customers to create lists of favorite landmarks and locations, attach personal photos and save them to a Scratchpad. Collections can be saved, recalled later, “permalinked,” and shared with friends and community in e-mail or through their MSN® Spaces blog.

Integration with Windows Live Messenger. Sharing maps and location information from within Windows Live Messenger chats is easier. Users begin a sharing session from the Actions menu. People sharing a chat session can see and interact with the same Windows Live Local map and benefit from a shared mapping and local search experience.

Integration With Microsoft Office Outlook

Also being released today is Windows Live Local Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook. This add-in introduces Windows Live Local mapping capabilities to the Outlook Calendar, enabling Outlook users to find and print maps and directions to meeting locations from within Outlook...This add-in is available for users of Outlook running on Windows® XP and Outlook 2003 and can be downloaded free of charge from

New Tools for Businesses and Developers

Virtual Earth map control was also released today, enabling developers to bring the same great mapping, imagery and local search capabilities into their business applications and "mashups" (Web applications that seamlessly combine content from more than one source). Virtual Earth map control is available to all developers free of charge for limited use and can be licensed for commercial service and support along with the rest of the Virtual Earth platform components. Windows Live Local is built on the Virtual Earth platform, and includes Virtual Earth map control. Key new features include support for address lookups and driving directions, improved local search functionality, and the ability to easily display standard data sets and Windows Live Local user Collections.

Expansion of Windows Live Local Into and the U.K.

Following last year’s launch of Windows Live Local in the U.S., its arrival, along with that of the MSN Virtual Earth platform, in the U.K. and Canada is evidence of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to provide this set of services in new markets and regions. Customers in these countries will experience similar high-quality local search and driving directions capabilities currently available in the U.S. Features such as bird's-eye-view imagery, improved aerial views and real-time traffic will be included in future releases and updates. Bird’s-eye-view imagery, also known as oblique imagery, is an image from an angled view taken from a range of 3,000 to 3,500 feet. The perspective offers the customer a unique view of a given area at superior resolution.

The Virtual Earth folks just keep cranking out releases at a great pace. The traffic flow information is something I've been dying to get so that I don't have to get directions from Windows Live Local and then have to go to the Seattle Area Trafic page to see what traffic looks like. Adding the bird's eye imagery to countries besides the U.K. is pretty cool too. I wonder if I'll ever get bird's eye imagery of Lagos.

On a side note, our team worked on the user collections feature with the VE folks. The cool thing about being a platform team is that we are like sand on the beach we get in everything. ;)


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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 8:58:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I wonder if I'm ever going to get a birds eye imagery of Holland. Or Europe. Or any other country for that matter besides US/UK/Canada. The satellite imagery is cute and all, but utterly useless for > 90% of the world's population right now (you can't see anything on them). Fortunately for me (not MS), with Google I really can say: "look mom, I can see my house from here!"

It all sounds really exiting (I think), but as usual with an American company, it's pointless for any non-Anglosaxon.
Thursday, May 25, 2006 1:03:13 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Doesn't appear to me as if you can say "look mom, I can see my house [in Lagos] from here" with Google Maps. Windows Live Local's map has considerably more detail than Google's.

Looks to me as if Lagos has grown considerably in the 20+ years since I was last there. Bet you can now get from the airport to downtown without being relieved of your money and luggage by the bandits on the airport road.


Thursday, May 25, 2006 1:05:01 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Missing Google link:,+nigeria&ll=6.475997,3.401299&spn=0.106433,0.266418&t=k&om=0
Thursday, June 1, 2006 7:39:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'm sorry, but to me it looks like Lagos has got just as much detail on a it has on Google Maps.

But if you look at, say, small European towns like Amsterdam, Paris or Berlin, you'll soon see a lot of difference between Goole and Microsoft. Definately "look mom, I can see my house from here" vs. "what the heck am I looking at?"

With Google I could see the photo was taken on a sunny day: I had the sun screen out! Somehow, that gave me an oddly wonderful feeling.
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