REDMOND, Wash. — May 23, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the third release of Windows Live™ Local, the company’s online local search and mapping service that gives people the ability to quickly find maps, directions and local search information that is layered on top of rich, immersive aerial photography. Added functionality includes real-time traffic flow and incident reporting, new social networking tools that enable users to save and share their favorite local experiences, and productivity enhancements from extending the Windows Live Local experience into Microsoft® Office Outlook® and Windows Live Messenger. The service is also expanding its beta release to the U.K. and a limited version to Canada. Windows Live Local is available at http://local.live.com.
“This release is important, as it represents the first time that people can easily capture their rich local knowledge and share it with all Windows Live Local users and the Internet as a whole,” said Stephen Lawler, general manager of the Virtual Earth™ business unit at Microsoft. “Our geographic expansion and integration with popular communication tools like Microsoft Outlook and Windows Live Messenger also enable us to bring the power of Windows Live Local to many more people than we do today.”
New Sharing Capabilities
The following new capabilities in the online service enable the seamless sharing of localized knowledge:
Real-time traffic flow. Customizable driving directions are now even more useful with the addition of real-time traffic flow and incident reporting provided by Traffic.com. This functionality will be available only in the U.S. release.
Collections. Social networking functionality allows customers to create lists of favorite landmarks and locations, attach personal photos and save them to a Scratchpad. Collections can be saved, recalled later, “permalinked,” and shared with friends and community in e-mail or through their MSN® Spaces blog.
Integration with Windows Live Messenger. Sharing maps and location information from within Windows Live Messenger chats is easier. Users begin a sharing session from the Actions menu. People sharing a chat session can see and interact with the same Windows Live Local map and benefit from a shared mapping and local search experience.
Integration With Microsoft Office Outlook
Also being released today is Windows Live Local Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook. This add-in introduces Windows Live Local mapping capabilities to the Outlook Calendar, enabling Outlook users to find and print maps and directions to meeting locations from within Outlook. It also allows them to better manage their travel schedule by extending meeting times to accommodate travel time and automatically send links with mapping information about meeting locations to other people within Outlook Calendar requests. This add-in is available for users of Outlook running on Windows® XP and Outlook 2003 and can be downloaded free of charge from http://outlook.local.live.com.
New Tools for Businesses and Developers
Virtual Earth map control was also released today, enabling developers to bring the same great mapping, imagery and local search capabilities into their business applications and “mashups” (Web applications that seamlessly combine content from more than one source). Virtual Earth map control is available to all developers free of charge for limited use and can be licensed for commercial service and support along with the rest of the Virtual Earth platform components. Windows Live Local is built on the Virtual Earth platform, and includes Virtual Earth map control. Key new features include support for address lookups and driving directions, improved local search functionality, and the ability to easily display standard data sets and Windows Live Local user Collections.
The MSN Virtual Earth platform also promises easy, flexible programming and builds on Microsoft’s long-term commitment to the Web development community. The Virtual Earth API allows developers to embed Virtual Earth’s rich mapping capabilities into their own Web pages. Customers in vertical markets, such as commercial and residential real estate and travel and hospitality, have benefited extensively after implementing the Virtual Earth platform as a means to boost online presence and functionality. Developer information can be found at the MapPoint® Developer Center on MSDN® (http://msdn.microsoft.com/mappoint) and the group blog http://blogs.msdn.com/virtualearth.
Expansion of Windows Live Local Into Canada and the U.K.
Following last year’s launch of Windows Live Local in the U.S., its arrival, along with that of the MSN Virtual Earth platform, in the U.K. and Canada is evidence of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to provide this set of services in new markets and regions. Customers in these countries will experience similar high-quality local search and driving directions capabilities currently available in the U.S. Features such as bird’s-eye-view imagery, improved aerial views and real-time traffic will be included in future releases and updates. Bird’s-eye-view imagery, also known as oblique imagery, is an image from an angled view taken from a range of 3,000 to 3,500 feet. The perspective offers the customer a unique view of a given area at superior resolution.
Standard aerial imagery for the U.K. has been licensed from Getmapping plc. Microsoft is also working with the Blom Group to provide the unique bird’s-eye-view photos that will cover roughly 235 square miles of London in the coming weeks and will expand over time. Bird’s-eye-view imagery in the U.S. is provided by Pictometry International Corp. for 30 percent of the U.S. areas that are mapped. In Canada, bird’s-eye-view imagery will not be available in the initial release but will be introduced as the beta is built out and improved over the next several months.
About MSN and Windows Live
MSN attracts more than 465 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 42 markets and 21 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering compelling programmed content experiences to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. Windows Live, a new set of personal Internet services and software, is designed to bring together in one place all the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with enhanced safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. MSN and Windows Live will be offered alongside each other as complementary services. Some Windows Live services entered an early beta phase on Nov. 1, 2005; these and future beta updates can be found at http://ideas.live.com. Windows Live is available at http://www.live.com. MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com. MSN worldwide sites are located at http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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