New version of Virtual Earth released today

Today sees the launch of version 6.1 of the Microsoft Virtual Earth map control. There are some great new features especially considering its not a major release. Here is a quick summary of the highlights:

High Detailed 3d Cities

Microsoft have updated 4 US cities (Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix and Dallas) to include every building and even trees! These "densified" cities look amazing as you can see from the screen shot below from Las Vegas.

ve-las-vegas-ver2

These models and even the matching of trees are apparently all done automatically using the technology Microsoft acquired when buying Vexcel.

We can't wait to start adding our Vscapes high quality photo realistic models to these existing cities like we have already done in Google Earth to give the ultimate tool for property developments.

Birds Eye views with road map overlays (Hybrid Birds Eye)

Microsoft have done an amazing job at adding road maps and labels to their existing birdseye imagery. We were concerned how this might work when we first heard about it but now we have seen the results we are really impressed.

One thing we noticed of interest is that the roads and labels are being overlayed transparently on top of the existing birdseye imagery, rather than creating a whole new set of birdseye tiles. We are hoping this will be done in future for the aerial hybrid views so that road maps could be overlayed on top of our own custom tile layers.

We have already started integrating hybrid birdseye into our EarthwareProperty estate agency mapping as you can see below, this and our new local area information will be available in the next release this month.

earthwareproperty

Improved Localisation Support

The new Virtual Earth control now supports localisations of the map "dashboard" user controls. There is now support for English, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and French.

There are also now improved localised directions for 15 languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Italian.

Improved directions and new routing features

There are now directions for walking, this uses different rules about what roads you can use in routing. Traffic based routing is now also available but again only in the US and only where traffic information is currently available.

Other minor features

There are a few more changes that are welcomed but might go unnoticed by some.

  • Reverse geocoding, allowing you to get the address for a given latitude and longitude, only is the US currently
  • Improved support for Safari 2 and 3
  • Improved printing support, especially for Firefox and Safari
  • New 3d tour videos features on Live.com (we will blog more about this later today)

One major hitch for UK and Maybe Europe

All these new features are amazing and we spent a long time this morning on local.live.com trying them all out. However we did come across one major problem. It appears that Microsoft have decided to redirect all users from the UK (and maybe Europe - please let us know) to Multimap maps (multimap was recently aquired by Microsoft).

While we can maybe see why UK visitors may get better data and features from using Multimap we would like to be able to choose ourselves not have it forced upon us. The biggest issue is we cannot now access our collections and 3d models on local.live.com which is a big issue for us and I'm sure others.

We have however found a work around in that you can use the url below to set your region to the US, therefore not getting redirected:

http://maps.live.com/?q=&mkt=en-us&scope=&FORM=LIVSOP

In Summary

We have been really impressed by what has been released today and can't wait to start integrating them into our interactive mapping products. Once again Microsoft have shown their commitment to driving Virtual Earth forward. Thanks to all the dev team involved its a brilliant release!