Microsoft’s Windows Live Local – Beta

Just happened by Microsoft’s new map, driving direction, satellite, close-up geographical image deal, website, thingy today. They’re really trying to compete and one up ‘Google Earth‘ — which has been out for a while now and is pretty damn impressive in its own right. Got to say that Microsoft is doing a pretty good job! Google was able to get some pretty clean satellite images of most all areas of the United States (and World), but are missing out on a lot of areas — where their gamut of satellites haven’t yet taken “super detailed” images. One of Google Earth’s best places, in terms of image detail, is Cambridge, Mass. (It has something close to a 6 in. resolution — or something crazy like that.) Check it out, you can make out people on the sidewalks!

I thought that was cool until today when a work associate showed me the competition, Microsoft’s Live Local site. Damn! This site has some seriously close-up, detailed imagery — not to mention providing maps, driving directions, and satellite views. But, the super detailed stuff I’m not even sure how they did (technically), as you can get down to the ‘Bird’s Eye View’ which has up to a 20 yard resolution and is in 3/4 perspective! Google Earth has the ability to change perspective, but it’s a “faked,” flattened view. Check out Meg and the Kid’s crib from the Microsoft site:

Da Crib

(It’s much more impressive larger — on the site.) But, nutty! Again, no idea how they are getting these types of images. I don’t know of any kind of satellite that is producing these things. Check out your address and see what your neighborhood/house looks like to a bird (make sure to click on the ‘Bird’s Eye View’ on the left, top of the frame). Technology wars… The wars are going to produce some pretty neat things for us masses over the years.

This entry was posted in Computer, Internet, Ramblings.


  1. Steve Lombardi January 28, 2006 at 5:00 am #

    Hi Dave – The Birds Eye imagery is actually captured from low elevation planes, typically flying between 2000 and 4000 feet. There are 5 cameras mounted to the plane, 1 looking straight down and 4 more facing North, South, East and West at 45 degrees. Having 4 angles like this allows you to rotate the view in 90 degree increments in most places! Click on this link to check out Union Station in DC, then use the rotation tool in the upper left to rotate your view 90 degrees.

    Much more on Birds Eye images including some great shots on our team blog here:!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!389.entry

    Steve Lombardi
    Virtual Earth Program Manager

  2. The Kid February 1, 2006 at 4:26 pm #

    Hey Steve!

    Thanks for the “real deal!” People were trying to argue that the pictures were generated from satellites. Ha! You guys are doing a great job! The ‘Bird’s Eye View’ is incredible and has taken the “aerial mapping genre” to a whole new level.

    If you make it back to the site, I do have one more question — that my work associates and I have been debating. Being that I assumed you were using helicopters or planes, I was wondering what trouble you might run into when trying to “Bird’s Eye” Class-A airspace? I noticed that most of the major cities have no Bird’s Eye view, probably for this reason, however, do you have a plan for trying to get around this “limitation” somehow?

    Keep up the good work!


  3. Steve Lombardi February 2, 2006 at 11:07 pm #

    Hi Dave – I’m not sure exactly what qualifies as Class A Airspace. A quick web search lead me to believe it has something to do with elevation as opposed to X/Y location. At any rate, we have Birds eye imagery for MOST major cities (LA, NY, San Fran, Dc…) and are working at adding more, including internationally. We are of course still missing some biggies like Chicago and Dallas, but were definitely at work on them. Our partner that is flying and capturing the Birds Eye Imagery is Pictometry. I don’t know what the process is that they go through to get Clearance for the flying at that altitude, but you may be able to learn more at their website.


    Steve Lombardi
    Virtual Earth Program Manager

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