I’m finding more and more sites lately that are using Virtual Earth as their on-site mapping program. The latest is Bank of America (via the VE dev blog). It’s got a unique issue in that it claims to require that you enter your City, State and ZIP, but it appears that ZIP-only will work (as it should).
Another fairly new one is Weather.com (here is the radar for my area). However, its got one big problem – static radar images only. A static radar doesn’t help me decide if rain is on the way, as it could be coming from a variety of different angles. All that a static radar will do is tell me if it’s raining right now — I have windows that serve the same purpose. (btw – if you want a nice animated radar, I’ve always been a big fan of AccuWeather)
Finally, we have Harry Norman realtors. We used them to buy our current house and we’re big fans. I told them a few times that they should put their listings into a Google Earth network link, as that would be great for potential buyers. I had been putting all of our “homes to see” into GE, along with local Target stores, Publix, Chick-Fil-A and other places that we enjoy, just to see how it shakes out. Dropping all of that into a nice GE network link would be amazingly easy, but repeated e-mails to them have gone completely unanswered.
Anyhow, here is their “Map Search”. As you zoom in, you can see where all of the Harry Norman offices are located. Wait, what? Yep. Their map shows all of their offices for you, but no houses. A link in the corner shows how many listings would be on the map, which you can click to show in a big long list. While I suppose it beats nothing, it’s really quite pitiful.
One final complaint – none of these maps support the Space Navigator. At all. As the Google Earth Blog said a while back, the Virtual Earth interface has a rather “clunky” mouse interface. I agree completely.
All of that being said, it’s impressive to see these big companies choosing to use Virtual Earth rather than Google Maps (or Earth, in some cases). This battle between Google and MS should only continue to heat up, which will ultimately benefit all of us in the form of better products.