Google pips MS to the post for streetside views!

Right now Virtual Earth's USP is its amazing 'birds eye' views. It looked like the gap between Google Maps and Virtual Earth imagary was only going to get bigger when MS started talking about 'street side' views where you could actually see a street as if you were standing in it in full glorious 360 panoramas. Infact MS put up a technical demo to show the kind of things they are planning which you can see here.

However today Google annouced they have street side views available now! From the video demo I've seen it looks very very good with lots of user interaction. Of course its only available in a limited ammount in San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and Denver with more (US I guess) cities promised in future. Take a look at the Google press release, and some what zaney video here.

MS have definately lost the advantage here, I wonder how far away they are from release and if Google's release was as unexpected as it was to the rest of the web mapping community. From our last catchup with MS they were taking time resolving the privacy issues that street side views brought up, namely you could see actual people, car reg plates etc very clearly. This makes us wonder how / if Google has resolved these issues, it will be interesting to find out.