REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 6, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced U.S. availability of Virtual Earth™ 3D, a new online mapping interface that is part of the Live Search offering, providing consumers with a three-dimensional experience to search, browse and explore the real world online.
When people visit Live Search (http://live.com), type a query into the search box and click the “Maps” tab, they get their search results in a map context that offers the option to explore the area using two-dimensional views (aerial and bird’s-eye) or three dimensional models with Virtual Earth 3D. This new technology compiles photographic images of cities and terrain to generate textured, photorealistic 3-D models with engineering level accuracy.
“By helping people visualize information in far more useful and intuitive ways, Virtual Earth 3D takes search to an entirely new level,” said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. “The immersive 3-D experience provides a more powerful and engaging interface that delivers better experiences not only for consumers, but also for developers and advertisers.”
Three-dimensional models are available initially for 15 U.S. cities: San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Fort Worth. Terrain imagery in 3-D is available globally, and Microsoft expects to offer 3-D imagery in an ever expanding set of cities. Other features provided by Live Search include access to real-time traffic information in select major U.S. cities, and access to business listings “yellow pages” and people listings “white pages” that allows consumers to easily find local information and act on it.
“The release of Virtual Earth 3D is a significant step toward creating a truly new dimension in search not only in the look and feel of the experience but in the way consumers and advertisers can be involved,” said Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of the Online Services Group at Microsoft. “Local search is one of the fastest-growing categories online today, and adding features like 3-D will only help move the category further ahead and help Windows Live attract more customers and advertisers.”
Advertisements will be available within the Virtual Earth 3D experience. Similar to billboards on the side of roads, virtual billboards will be available throughout Live Search in the 3-D view. The ads available within the Virtual Earth 3D experience are created using a combination of technologies from Virtual Earth, Massive Inc. technology, and the advertising platform from Microsoft® Digital Advertising Solutions. In addition, developers can use the Virtual Earth 3D application programming interface to build these search capabilities into their own applications and Web sites. This and other APIs for Live Search are offered at no cost to developers, with the option to acquire additional support and other benefits through a service-level agreement with Microsoft. Developers can find more information about the Virtual Earth API.