From the blog post Virtual Earth Team Launches Street-Side Drive-by we learn
The Virtual Earth team is pleased to launch a preview of a new feature we
have been working on – interactive Street-side browsing. You can try it out at
Street-side imagery allows you to drive around a city looking at the world
around you as if you were in a car. But unlike the real world, you can stop your
car anywhere you like and rotate your view around 360degrees. Currently we have
street-side imagery for San Francisco and Seattle online, and we are planning to
have many more cities added soon.
One of the most interesting features is to put yourself in ‘Street’ view map
style. In this mode, all of the street-side images are pasted flat on the map to
give you a very unique overview of an area. It takes some getting used to, but
once you adjust to it you’ll find it provides a very compelling companion view
for our Hybrid maps. Street view helps you orient yourself quickly in an area,
while the street side views then show more detail presented as you would see it
in the real-world.
This technology preview is just that – a means for us to get a feature we are
working on in your hands to play with and provide feedback on, before it is
ready for prime time integration into the Windows Live Local site.