My take on Virtual Earth
I'm probably a bit more in a geeky mode when I should, but it's difficult to avoid. As part of my study I'm reading much more technology blogs than I'd normally do, picking up stories and watching tools being released.
One of those new tools is Virtual Earth (see also team blog, Channel 9 story). Usually I wouldn't jump to test it so early, but it's hard to avoid it watching stories go around Microsoft blogs.
First, a non-tech side of the story in a post by Robert Scoble:
Yeah, it is the second time in a week that I can't talk about something when everyone else is talking about it (the earlier one was when the name "Windows Vista" leaked out and about 2,000 blogs had talked about it before I was able to admit that was the official name. For instance, Elliott Back writes: "Wow! These are just my first impressions, but it seems like Microsoft has built a Google-Maps killer!"
I was asked to hold off until 9:01 p.m. PT tonight on the Virtual Earth stuff. A few people discovered our URL's while we turned on the servers to perform performance tests and now we're off to the races. Tons of blogs are talking.
[...]So, why do we have embargoes? I think it's one of those last things that survive from old-school PR. They are trying to give everyone in the media an equal shot at being out at the gate. I personally think we need to reevaluate our rules here. The word-of-mouth network is just getting too efficient to try to live by these rules anymore.
The conversation can come and go long before we are allowed to participate (it's already the #4 search on Technorati this morning, for instance, why aren't those people finding any posts by Microsoft employees? Because we aren't talking until 9:01 p.m. tonight).
Back to the tool itself. When I first checked it I wasn't impressed (because I immediately searched for Moscow and so far only US is properly mapped). But then I came across this post at VE team blog and was intrigued.
So I went there and tried how Locate me feature works. Funny enough, it didn't came up with my location based on IP address even given that I'm at Microsoft, but after downloading WiFi locator it found me on the map. It was pretty nice, especially given that earlier today I was fighting with Plazes (which btw released cool features as well) placing MSR in the center of Redmond even given the full address.
Then I decided to search for sushi places near by and it worked nicely.
Now the missing parts:
- I can't send a link to this page (actually I can, but my location dissappears)
- It's pretty nice that I can get driving directions easily, but I didn't find a way to add my current location as departure or destination point. Which is really pity because I'm in a constant struggle with entering addresses in a way that whatever tools that supposed to help me to find a way understand. Asking directions from where I'm now to where I want to be just by clicking on the map would be so much easier...
- Would be great if "Blog it" feature would allow posting to any blog and not only MSN Spaces.