Microsoft Live Maps Looks Better Than Google Maps/Earth

(click above image to see full size)

Just for kicks recently I checked out Microsoft Live Maps with Virtual Earth 3D (Beta) installed.

Summed up: It kicks ass.

No, it does not have all the features of Google Maps/Earth (such as Street Views,) however it looks far better, particularly with “Bird’s eye” option enabled. I was amazed at how good it looks. We’re talking crisp clean very detailed photos you can map with.

I will be doing a video on this soon showing what you can do with Live Maps. There are both pros and cons. Stay tuned for it.

One final note: Notice the screen shot was taken with the Firefox browser. Yes, Virtual Earth 3D works both in FF and IE (but not sure about Opera, didn’t test on that one.)


  1. Don’t forget to look at the plug in for NASA World Wind to link to Live Maps. You just zoom to where ever in WW, click the Live Maps icon in the tool bar, and Live Maps opens to what you are looking at in WW. MUCH faster than trying to thump around to find a location in Google or Live.

  2. Been saying this for a long time. Does anyone listen? Noooooo. ‘Cause it’s Microsoft. But Redmond’s “Live” team does some kick-butt work, and Maps is just one example.

    Check out the detail of Washington, DC. Google’s pales in comparison.

  3. I agree that Live Maps does kick ass. My only beef with it is the response time (for me) when zooming in and out is much slower than Google Maps. But the quality is fantastic and the birds eye view, IMHO, is a much better feature than street view.
    Granted, as you said, there are pros and cons to each. I actually have saved maps on both sites and interchabge between the two depending on what I’m needing it for.

  4. I think the MS Virtual Earth needs more work
    I installed it and it flickers and
    just like most microsoft non office apps
    that are 2nd rate and most of the time full of bugs and issues.
    If apple made sucha an application I bet you all 100% it would be very detailed stunning. just the slightest move would be fluid and not choppy,how the drag in that world is it would more than likely be made exclusivly for the mac only!
    So for my quest continues to find “Whats Better than Google Earth”.
    I would love to see a “Google Universe”
    So we can explore space not just the earth!

  5. @Trin
    re: Virtual Earth is 2nd rate “because it flickers”

    So let’s put aside the fact that I see no flickering what so ever on a $500 XP/IE7 home PC here in my living room. (But gee. Could it be that you’re running Safari which has a flicker ridden DHTML engine on it relative to Firefox or IE? Nooooo. That could never be. Never heard of THAT problem. )

    No, your religious bias has you bypassing silly little nuances like:
    – Map fidelity
    – Map timeliness
    – Map accuracy
    – Value of Bird’s Eye versus Street View
    – Comprehensive 3D model structure databases
    – Engine programmability

    And one last thing: As a programmer, we’ve licensed Virtual Earth for usage in a customer facing application and pricewise, there’s absolutely no comparison: It’s clear that Microsoft is willing to deal whereas Google is not.

    Try to at least educate yourself before you start commenting on things you know little about. Blind faith is only accepted before the altar of the Steve Jobs dictatorship and his “reality distortion field”. In this world, people evaluate based on real facts, cost of ownership & integration, and utility. Not style, marketing, and fluff.

  6. i don’t like both of the 2 web base, i can’t get to any close up of what i need to do with google earth or virtual earth. i need some thing i can use when i am tracking all of the train tracks in real time. i need something where i can get up to 3 yards as close up i can get. the 2 poor programs don’t cut it .

  7. Does anyone know what the copyrights are on photos from Virtual Earth? Can we use photos on our own websites?

    • If you use Windows Live Writer and choose to “insert a map”, the software does pull a image copy off the Live Maps server for use on your web site. As long as you keep the copyright notice in the image for proper attribution, it’s legal to use on your blog/site.

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