Bing Maps launches a ton of new features

Microsoft has been playing catch-up to Google in the mapping world for a while.  Most of their “new” features are things that Google has had for a while.  Today they caught up with a few more, and even surpassed Google with a few of them.

You can read the full list of new items on the Bing Maps Blog, or get TechCrunch’s take on it.  However you look it, though, it’s a pretty sweet upgrade.  Here’s some of the highlights:

Silverlight Required: While Microsoft obviously trumps this as a positive thing, I’m not a convinced that forcing users to download a new piece of software is a great thing to have.  Of course, Google makes you download the entire Google Earth package, so I guess it’s fair.

Streetside vs. StreetView: An almost identical replica of Google’s StreetView, but with far less coverage.  It does some neat things to smooth the transitions between frames, but it’s very similar.

Enhanced Bird’s Eye: They’ve tweaked the Bird’s Eye view to show 3D models in with the imagery.  It’s a somewhat odd effect, but it works really well.  Bird’s Eye is the one big thing they’ve had over Google for the past few years, so it’s understandable that they’d try to extend that lead.

Photosynth: They’ve brought photosynth right into Bing Maps, with pretty nice integration.

They’ve added a lot of other neat things, but those are the ones that jumped out at me.  As Chris Pendleton says at the end of his postI’d say at the very least things in the online mapping world just got a little more interesting wouldn’t you say?“.

I agree.

Virtual Earth / Live Maps being rebranded to Bing

As you’ve likely heard, Microsoft has unveiled it’s new Bing search engine.  As part of that rebranding process, other Microsoft applications are getting renamed.  Of particular interest to us are the new names for their mapping products.

Live Search Maps will now be simply called “Bing Maps”, and the Virtual Earth platform will now be known as “Bing Maps for Enterprise”.  Much more about this can be found on Chris Pendleton’s blog or by watching the video below.