Virtual Earth map control 6.2 coming in a few weeks

According to Nate Irwin, version 6.2 of the Virtual Earth map control is coming on September 22nd.  This new map control brings a lot of great features to the table, including landmark-based directions and real-time weather in 3D.

Here’s my big question, though — where’s the new imagery?  Unless I’ve missed something, they haven’t added any new imagery since July, and they haven’t updated any 3D cities since June.  I absolutely love their “version 2″ cities in 3D, and was hoping we’d see a steady stream of them.

Any idea when more might be coming our way?

The July update for Virtual Earth is out

It’s not nearly as large as some recent Virtual Earth updates, but there’s still quite a bit packed into this one.  No new 3D cities that I know of, but a bunch of new imagery.  New orthos in a handful of places in the US, all of Austria, and various cities in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.  In addition, there is new satellite and Bird’s Eye imagery for a variety of locations.

You can see the full list of updated areas here.

Various improvements to Live Maps overseas

A handful of new features have just been rolled out for the international versions of Live Maps.

Live Search Maps China has just had a handful of additions and improvements, including:

  • Real-time Traffic in Beijing
  • Send-to-Mobile for free for local search and transit routing result
  • Transit data refresh for existing 11 cities including 3 new subway in Beijing (No.10, Airport and Olympic).
  • Expanded coverage from 11 to 31 cities.
  • Geocoding and Local Search
  • Data refresh for existing 114 cities including Olympic Venues.
  • Support city and county name geocoding for areas outside of 114-city coverage.
  • Olympic query relevance improvement
  • Local search category refinement
  • Map refresh for 10 existing major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou etc.
  • Expanded tile coverage for 30 more cities, totally 289 cities now.

Also, Live Search Maps Australia has been released, with data from a variety of sources.  This page has more info about that release.

Imagery update for Virtual Earth

While not nearly as big as their last update, Virtual Earth has about 20TB of new imagery now in place.  It includes quite a bit of new imagery in France, as well as various places around the world.  Sadly, it doesn’t appear that they’d added any more “version 2″ cities this month.  I’m dying to see Atlanta in v2, so hopefully they release more soon.

Full details about this update can be found here.

A ton of new imagery for Virtual Earth, and a few more updated cities

To go with the new “version 2″ 3D data for Miami, Microsoft has updated Vienna and Seattle.  In addition to that, they’ve added a ton of new imagery.

I normally like to list all of the updated areas, but it’s simply too much.  You can view it all on this page.

The total amount of new imagery is reported to be around 69.2TB, which is amazing!  However, I don’t know how that number is computed.  Is that raw imagery?  Compressed?  Anyone know how that figure is derived?

In any case, it looks to be another awesome update.

Miami is now “version 2″ in Virtual Earth

About two months after the first four “version 2″ cities were released, Microsoft has just unveiled Miami 2.0.  Like the other four cities, it features a massive increase in the number of buildings, along with a whole bunch of 3D trees.  According to the Virtual Earth 3D blog, Miami now has 46,344 3D buildings (up from about 4,000) along with “hundreds of thousands” of trees.

To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed with the pace of these new cities.  They’ve bragged a few times that these cities are generated through a “100% automated process”, so I expected a few new cities per month.  To only have one new city after two months is a bit of a letdown.  That being said, Miami looks awesome and I can’t wait to see more!

More details about yesterday’s Virtual Earth update

We mentioned it yesterday, but now we have details of the imagery update in Virtual Earth, thanks VE: An Evangelist’s Blog.

I had hoped to see more of their awesome “version 2.0″ 3D cities added, but no new ones were added this time.  Still, it’s a very impressive update!

Here’s part of the list:

Microsoft Ultracam Orthos

  • Pueblo, CO
  • Wilmington, DE
  • St. Joseph, MO
  • Graceland, TN
  • Memphis, TN
  • Mesquite, TX
  • Burlington, VT
  • Yokohama, JPN
  • Kawasaki, JPN
  • Setagaya, JPN

Obliques (Bird’s Eye) – US

  • Areas NW of Birmingham, AL
  • Pickens County, AL
  • Charlotte County, FL
  • Boulder, CO
  • Pueblo, CO
  • Pasco County, FL
  • Fulton County, GA
  • Black Hawk County, IA
  • Johnson County, IA
  • Woodbury County, IA
  • Douglas County, KS
  • Olmstead County, MN
  • Suburban St. Louis, MO
  • Hinds County, MS
  • Mississippi Metro
  • Smith County, MS
  • Tallahatchie County, MS
  • Tate County, MS
  • Tunica County, MS
  • Yalobusha County, MS
  • Yellowstone County, MT
  • Pitt County, NC
  • Merrimack County, NH
  • Lancaster Metro, PA
  • Lawrence County, PA
  • Minnehaha County, SD
  • Pennington County, SD
  • Eau Claire, WI

Obliques (Bird’s Eye) – Australia

  • Gold Coast, Australia
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Hobart, Australia
  • Wollongong, Australia

Obliques (Bird’s Eye) – Europe

  • Aberdeen, UK
  • Edinburgh, UK
  • Dunfermline, UK
  • Cumbernauld, UK
  • Falkirk, UK
  • East Kilbride, UK
  • Dundee, UK
  • Crawley, UK
  • Glasgow, UK
  • Liverpool, UK
  • Las Palmas, Spain
  • Telde, Spain
  • Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
  • Den Helder, Netherlands
  • Ruhrgebiet Region, Germany
  • London, UK (updated)
  • Ruhrgebiet Region, Germany
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Agrinion, Greece
  • Chalkida, Greece
  • Chania, Greece
  • Drama, Greece
  • Ioannina, Greece
  • Kalamata, Greece
  • Iraklion, Greece
  • Katerini, Greece
  • Kavala, Greece
  • Lamia, Greece
  • Larnia, Greece
  • Serres, Greece
  • Trikala, Greece
  • Patra, Greece
  • Volos, Greece

Orthos – US (0.5m)

  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Augusta, GA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Columbia, SC
  • El Paso, TX
  • Florida Southwest Coast, FL
  • Ocala-Gainesville, FL
  • Gulfport, MS
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Nashville, TN
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Panama City, FL
  • Pensacola, FL
  • San Francisco, CA
  • St. Cloud, MN
  • Tampa Bay, FL

Satellite – Worldwide

  • Baker Island, USA
  • The Alhambra in Grenada, Spain
  • Ahmadabad, India
  • Pune, India
  • Bhopal, India
  • Timbuktu, Mali
  • Bhudaneswar, India
  • Indore, India
  • Patna, India
  • Nagpur, India
  • Bangalore, India
  • Calcutta, India
  • New Delhi, India
  • Bombay, India
  • Hyderabad, India
  • Jaipur, India
  • Kanpur, India
  • Madras, India

Virtual Earth Imagery Update

Microsoft has apparently just added 22TB worth of new imagery to Virtual Earth. The only nice tidbit we know so far is that Australia finally has some Birds Eye imagery.

Assuming this is accurate, I expect a detailed announcement from Microsoft shortly.

Google Earth vs. Virtual Earth in Denver

Denver has emerged as one of the flagship cities for both Google Earth and Virtual Earth. Google Earth has built a ton of 3D models in the city, and Virtual Earth has already converted it to “version 2.0″ with over 100,000 3D models (as well as 300,000 trees). Therefore, I thought it’d be a good place to compare some things.

I already did a quick comparison of Turner Field in Atlanta, but that wasn’t completely fair since Atlanta isn’t an updated city in Virtual Earth.  For this comparison, I picked three different locations in the city and captured similarly positioned screenshots from each of the two programs.  In each set of pictures, the Google Earth image is on the left, and the Virtual Earth image is on the right.

Please note that this brief review is about visuals only.  This doesn’t get into usability, extendability, layers, etc.  This is just graphics, pure and simple.  A more in-depth review will come later.

Coors Field

The trees add a nice touch of realism in the Virtual Earth model, but the Google Earth model blows it away.

City Overview

They’re pretty comparable here. Virtual Earth has more buildings in view, but overall they look quite similar.

Downtown Park / State Capitol

Here is where Virtual Earth really shines. The extra buildings in the background and the trees look excellent. Google has a few nice touches (such as the statues) and the building looks a bit better, but the trees really make the Virtual Earth page feel more realistic.


All in all, things haven’t changed much — they’ve just scaled up. Just as before, Google’s buildings look a little better, but Microsoft has a ton more of them. This should be a fun battle to watch over the next few years!

Trees and Highway Overpasses

I’ve long felt that two things would need to happen to get to the next level in 3D imagery — trees and highway overpasses.

Since one of the neat features in Google Earth is the ability to fly a route, having proper overpasses would make things look much better.  The latest version of Virtual Earth has some cities modeled in “version 2.0″, which include a number of advances.  To the right is a bridge over a river.  While the bottom is still solid (you can’t see the river under the bridge) and the edges are rough, it’s really coming along nicely.  The tighter mesh of elevation data is getting us closer to where I’d like to see it.  I would think we’ll see some real progress in this area within the next year or so.

The bigger problem is the lack of trees.  Amazingly, Microsoft has begun to fix that already, too!  I really felt that was still well off in the future, but I’m glad I was wrong.  It only works in their “version 2.0″ cities (Las Vegas, Dallas, Denver and Phoenix), but it’s really neat.  As Google Earth Blog had speculated, the trees are generated automatically by Microsoft.  Hand-placing thousands of trees would be an impossible task to keep up with.

In addition, the trees don’t affect load time very much.  They only have to load a given tree type once, then tweak the height and diameter for each placement of it.  As such, I’ve found the trees load very quickly — usually before most of the buildings.

I’m a bit concerned about performance, though.  The tree models look excellent, and with thousands of them scattered around a city, I have to think that it’ll make things move a little slower.  I’m currently out of town on an old laptop, so everything is slow right now.  When I get home to my primary PC I’ll really start putting it through it’s paces.

Microsoft says that the updated data will roll out to the current set of 250 3D cities “soon” and I’m really looking forward to it.