REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 7, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. will introduce a beta version of Windows Live™ Local, an online local search and mapping service that combines unique bird’s-eye imagery with advanced driving directions, Yellow Pages and other local search tools tomorrow, Dec. 8, 2005, at 9:01 a.m. PST. Powered by Virtual Earth™ mapping and location platform, these features give users useful new ways to map and find directions to various locations and better visualize their surroundings from multiple aerial vantage points.
“We believe Windows Live Local sets a new standard for what people can do with maps, directions and local search,” said Christopher Payne, corporate vice president of MSN Search at Microsoft. “The combination of immersive aerial imagery, customizable map annotations, innovative driving directions and the ability to share local search information with others gives users an incredibly powerful and easy way to find what they want and get where they want to go.”
The new service, which will be located at http://local.live.com, contains a range of new capabilities that will be exciting to search and mapping users. The most visible of these features is a new 45-degree bird’s-eye view of major U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and Las Vegas. Covering about 25 percent of the U.S. by population, these bird’s-eye images are captured by Pictometry International Corp. via low-flying airplanes and then integrated with road and satellite maps to simulate 360-degree panoramas that can be viewed from four compass directions. On-screen navigational tools and preview tiles enable navigation between directional views or zooming in closer to a destination. Now people will be able to experience what it’s like to be there, whether they are evaluating a new house to buy, choosing the exact location to meet someone, or just taking a virtual vacation. Over the next couple of years, Microsoft plans to continuously update bird’s-eye, aerial, and road map data and imagery as well as local listings and information.
Taking the Guesswork Out of Getting There
The new Windows Live Local service also gives users some great new ways to identify where they want to go and map the best route to get there. First, users will be able to point to anyplace on the map that interests them and immediately calculate directions to it. Now, even if the user doesn’t know the address or name of a place — such as a park, shopping mall, parking garage or other spot that is hard to identify by address or name — he or she can simply point, click and get directions to that location. In addition, the new service provides a range of new driving direction capabilities, including step-by-step directions using bird’s-eye or satellite views, identification of construction areas along a specific route, and several innovative print options such as print-only directions, the addition of notes to printed directions, and thumbnail pictures of each turn in the route. An updated version of Microsoft® Location Finder is also available in Windows Live Local to help people using a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop, Tablet PC or desktop PC to easily position their current location as a starting point to their search experience. The degree of accuracy is usually within a few hundred feet of a user’s actual location.
Additional Ways to Share; More Bird’s-Eye Views Planned
Today’s launch also offers users the ability to customize their maps by adding their own user-created Pushpins, which can be annotated with useful information about a location such as which corner of an intersection to meet, the baseball field and time “Johnny’s” game will start, or the camping site selected for the annual summer trip. Pushpins can be used to create itineraries for a set of activities and in all cases can be easily shared with others through e-mail, Web logs, MSN® Spaces or instant messages sent with MSN Messenger.
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