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Windows Live goes Local 177

dualcore writes "PC Magazine is reporting that Windows is going live with a 'new online local search and mapping service.' The interface is pretty close to Google Local, but with subtle enhancements, such as right-clicking anywhere on the map brings up a context menu or the way you can click on a point on the map to select it for directions. The final word on which service is better remains to be seen but this competition will certainly benefit the end-users."
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Windows Live goes Local

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  • Cumbersome (Score:5, Informative)

    by (1+-sqrt(5))*(2**-1) ( 868173 ) <1.61803phi@gmail.com> on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:20PM (#14214853) Homepage
    Playing around with it, I find it cumbersome compared to its Google analog; the drag behaviour, for instance, goes into a bizarre sticky mode.
    • by mikecito ( 777939 ) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:23PM (#14214869)
      "Playing around with it, I find it cumbersome compared to its Google analog; the drag behaviour, for instance, goes into a bizarre sticky mode."

      Well it probably gets sticky because you're playing around with it, a little too much. Some find it bizarre, others like it.
    • the drag behaviour, for instance, goes into a bizarre sticky mode.
      I agree and I wonder if the sucky mode is a feature though?..
    • I had the same problem, though I'm using Firefox on Linux. Wonder if it'd be better on Windows with IE?
    • by SilverspurG ( 844751 ) * on Thursday December 08, 2005 @08:17PM (#14215218) Homepage Journal
      Give them some credit. They're Microsoft. They're not as hot and agile as Google is. I think we should all congratulate Microsoft for a job well done and give them a fair chance at the future.
    • Re:Cumbersome (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TaylorTAP ( 861647 ) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @08:32PM (#14215342)
      OK, why would I use this instead of Google again?

      Let's compare a basic query from Google to MSN Lives.

      http://local.google.com/maps?q=hospitals+near+stoc kton,+ca&hl=en [google.com]
      http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&ss=hospital s&cp=37.953792~-121.290691&style=h&lvl=11&sp=aN.34 .143119_-77.915445_road%20lake..%20make%20up%20you r%20mind_ [live.com]

      First off, Google's URL is MUCH shorter for permalink.

      But the real guts to this query is in the results.

      As you can see Google returns much cleaner, relative results and has more results too. Not to mention a COLORED MAP that is UP TO DATE.

      Live doesn't even have my house built on their map and that was back in 1996.

      This data is especially meaningful to me because a few weeks ago I got a call from a nurse that my Mom had had a heartattack and the hospital was St. something but thanks to Cingulars wonderful reception I couldn't make out what the lady said.

      Luckily, I had Google Local and it returned the right hospital almost instantly and allowed me to get in contact with the nurse again to find out that she was going to be alright.

      Now, looking for the nearest Pizza Hut isn't that big of a deal but when somebodies life is involved, I wouldn't trust any other search provider.
      • Re:Cumbersome (Score:3, Insightful)

        "Now, looking for the nearest Pizza Hut isn't that big of a deal but when somebodies life is involved, I wouldn't trust any other search provider."

        When someone's life is involved, why the fuck would you be on the internet trying to find a hospital. We have a number for that, 911. If you're in Europe, 112.
        • When someone's life is involved, why the fuck would you be on the internet trying to find a hospital. We have a number for that, 911. If you're in Europe, 112.

          What the GP was saying was that his mother was already AT the hospital, and the nurse called him to tell him his mother had had a heart attack. But with crappy Cingular (I have them too - once my contract is up I'm switching), he couldn't understand what hospital his mother was at - he just heard part of the name. But with google, that part was enou
      • I'm sorry, but as much as I prefer Google's interface, I wouldn't trust someone's life to it.

        A friend of mine runs a company I did their web site for. I provided a link to the location using google maps. Google gave an address 2 large blocks away from the actual location of the company.
    • Microsoft, please set the MozUserSelect property of your image nodes to "none". It will make Gecko users love you forever.
  • by tommers ( 893816 ) * on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:21PM (#14214858)
    While the interface isn't as polished as Google Maps, the Bird's Eye View feature is just tremendous. I haven't found a single block in San Francisco that isn't covered and they all look really good. I can't wait for someone to write a GreaseMonkey plugin to tie this into Google Maps, since their hybrid view is still the best around (except when I want the higher resolution of Virtual Earth [in my area at least]).

    And I'm not afraid to say: Wait to go Microsoft! They've created something very very cool that no one else has. While Google Maps and Google Earth were bigger steps in the evolution of maps, this is still quite a large one and I think Microsoft deserves more credit than they got when they first released Virtual Earth and probably more credit than Google FanBoys at Slashdot will grant them now.

    That said, there are some annoying interface issues that make it less polished than Google Maps.
    1. Dragging feels unnatural and gets stuck. I feel like I have to drag a little, let go, and then drag some more. Don't see what's wrong with the way Google and Yahoo do it.
    2. While I can understand why you can't just drag around forever since perspective of the adjancent edges are all different, it would be great if they could make dragging between photos easier so I don't have to scroll up to the upper left to move up or down. Any thoughts on how this could be done more smoothly.
    3. There address parsing isn't as good as Google Maps.
    4. Even if it wouldn't be seamless, it seems they could still offer the option of scrolling around multiple photos in a mosaic format. Maybe they don't want to break the illusion that you are in this space by allowing you to have a mosaic view of all photos available in an area. Maybe someone can create this (though Microsoft will probably shut it down like Google shut down the Google Maps poster maker).
    5. And obviously greater coverage would be much appreciated.

    The draggable-maps may have just created interface expectations that can't be met with these photos.

    The Siteseeing link from their [live.com]blog [msn.com] is also very cool.
    • "Wait to go Microsoft!"
      So you're saying I should keep using Google Maps and see how this project progresses later? ;)
    • I agree with most of your comments but Google and Microsoft both use NAVTEQ, and both put my house about 1/2 block east of were I really live. The only thing different is Microsoft data from NAVTEQ is a year older then Googles.

      The thing I like about is Microsoft doesn't put there name all over the maps like Google does. Also Microsoft maybe in B/W but they have better coverage in my Area. Other my city, Google has very bad coverage.
    • by robkill ( 259732 ) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:53PM (#14215075)
      And obviously greater coverage would be much appreciated.

      The greater coverage will come as Pictometry scales up to fly over more cities. Their website mentions each pixel equates to roughly 6 inches on the ground. That's a lot of imagery to collect over major metropolitan areas. 8 bits per pixel, covering several thousand square kilometers at that resolution with 4 different viewing angles is a lot of data.

      I'd like to see more geospatial information. Lat/Lon coordinates (at least WGS-84), height (ellipsoid or MSL), etc.
    • Sure, I give them full credit for copying what Google did. Good job Microsoft!
      • Actually, Microsoft had terraserver.microsoft.com in 1999, showing what could be done with SQL7.

        Everything else has been a copy of that, if you want to go that route.
        • I was referring to the maps web interface, not the database. I thought that's what we were comparing.
          • But, terraserver is very similar to the current satellite map systems - albiet using the lower quality images available at the time and with browser capabilities circa 1999.

            The only thing that's really different, besides the ability to load your own waypoints and data, is the mouse dragging.

            I do fully agree that without a push from competition, Microsoft does almost nothing new. Every once in awhile, they do release something neat, albiet somewhat half-assed and never updated, like terraserver. It's ver
      • They deserve that credit for their maps and satelite imagery. Even though I think Microsoft was working on something like this before GMaps came out, I'm sure VE would have been much different without GMaps.

        But they deserve credit for Bird's Eye View, which no one else is doing and is more useful than satellite imagery when its available. I still think Google Earth is the most fun of the three, but Bird's Eye View is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while.
    • Your post was good until you said "probably more credit then Google FanBoys at Slashdot will grant them" - are you purposely trying to be an ass to the Slashdot audience?
      • I didn't think generalizing that the average Slashdotter is a Google FanBoy made one an ass? Its a common topic here that Slashdotters salivate over Google products and stories like no other and that Google gets a lot of credit for even minor innovations. I assumed that Slashdotters would be thick-skinned enough to be accused of giving too much or too little credit in particular areas. Just look at how positive the response [slashdot.org] was to the anemic Google Talk. Can you imagine Microsoft or Yahoo coming into an
        • I guess I just don't understand why a comment like that is necessary at all. We know that with every forum, there's going to be groups of people that sway one way or another. They're often the loudest. It might seem like most users of a forum think one way, but it's often the case that it's just a fraction of the total population. So you're posting a generalized negative comment about Slashdot users, on Slashdot. Why bother.

          There's a lot of fine posters on Slashdot, and unfortunately that number is ste
    • Even if it wouldn't be seamless, it seems they could still offer the option of scrolling around multiple photos in a mosaic format. Maybe they don't want to break the illusion that you are in this space by allowing you to have a mosaic view of all photos available in an area. Maybe someone can create this (though Microsoft will probably shut it down like Google shut down the Google Maps poster maker).

      There's actually a reason why MS did what they did with the Bird's Eye imagery. Since it was taken at an
      • By mosaic, I actually meant seeing all the images with their disconnected edges left as is. It would definitely look like a bunch of photos placed side-by-side and wouldn't be what some people would hope for (since many less savvy users wouldn't intuit what you explained above), but it would still be a cool way to browse through photos of a city.
    • Yes, coverage is very sharp and wonderful. Odd though, there's a forest where my 6-year-old subdivision should be. Now, I don't live in the center of the [tech] world that is California, but I would think a metro area of over a million people [wikipedia.org] would have pictures from more recent than a decade ago (most of the areas on that list don't).
  • ...is how One-Click Shopping can get patented, but Microsoft can get away with such blatant copies as this (of Google Maps), MSN Messenger (of ICQ), and so forth.
    • Come now. It is quite simple. Bill and Steve have as much money as God. They can keep it wrapped up in court until something better comes out and no one cares about this "technical but unintentional infraction".
    • Google was hardly the first one to have online maps.
      • I didn't say they were. Use the MS service for five minutes, think about the current market for five minutes, and it should be really obvious that MS is doing this in response to Google, not the others.

        Specifically, the feature that MS copied that Google WAS the first to have (that I know of, anyway) was the map being draggable.
        • by CaymanIslandCarpedie ( 868408 ) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @08:29PM (#14215314) Journal
          OK fanboy.

          This stuff just drives me crazy!!!! MS was the first to bring online sat images to the net by about a decade. Google copied the concept, but its OK because you like Google better and you think thier product is amazing while the way MS did it sucks. Now MS copies a minor thing like draging an image and its just wrong!

          To me this is not just a Google Live/MS Live issue. Same for iPod fan boys who go crazy when another MP3 play copies the color of the case or some stupid detail, but its fine that Apple copied all the functional ideas from others.

          Everyone goes on and on about how competion is good, but as soon as someone does something similar to one of thier little "pet" products suddenly its just horrible (even if thier "pet" product is just as guilty as others of copying others).

          My complaint isn't about Google or any specific product or company. EVERYONE COPIES EVERYONE ELSE!!!! Thats it, and you know what? Thats a great thing! That lets everyone gain from incremental improvements that are made because of the cycle of copy and improve (or as others would say "embrace and extend").

          Intellectually I'm sure we all understand this, but somehow once its "our" product being copied in some little way, we go off bitching about it. STOP IT!!!!!

          • I think maybe my original point isn't getting through. It's probably my fault, since I've gotten troll mods as well as several responses like this. However, let me try to clarify: I am not bashing MS here. Google copied the concept of satellite maps, MS copied the draggable window, fine. As you say, everyone copies everyone else and it's a good thing when it improves the product.

            What IS bothering me is patent law. It's stated goal is to protect innovation. Well, here are some examples of innovation (interne
    • Those weren't patented. I agree that one-click is really lame, but MS did nothing wrong. I actually like the Bird's Eye View feature much better that anything in Google Earth or Maps
      • Fair enough. So here's a question (no, I don't understand the patent system): If Google Maps was to apply for a patent (specifically with regard to their interface, which seems extremely familiar) now, what would happen? Would it be refused on the grounds that people (MS) have been using it already? Would it be granted, but MS could continue because they'd already been using it? Would it be granted and MS would be sued and/or forced to pay license fees?
        • Since Google technically got it first, they could get a patent and demand that MS pay royalties. Seeing as that is highly unlikely as there were sattelite imagery programs long before Maps or Virtual Earth, probably even before keyhole. (Google Earth's predecessor) Google isn't a patent whore, so this scenario is highly unlikely even if the patent would be granted. I'm wondering if maps of any type could count as prior art, but then again the 'digital' aspect would be included in a patent application.
    • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:31PM (#14214927) Journal
      ...its called Terraserver, and it predated Google by a good many years...

    • While I don't agree that One-Click shopping should be patented, your post seems more like blatant MS bashing. Google Maps "copied" MapQuest and Yahoo Maps in the sense that they are both similar products. Google made some definate enhancements just as MS has in this case. And MSN is hardly a copy of ICQ, it is used to send instant messages over the internet but otherwise is completely different. Not to mention the fact that AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and just about any other IM client under the
      • Well, apparently I'm the troll today. Whatever.

        Anyway, while it's obviously true that Google Maps isn't the first internet map product, it is also obvious that the new MS service has blatantly copied much of the interface from Google Maps, specifically the dragging behaviour.

        Maybe this new service is even better than Google Maps, I don't know yet, all I know is that it feels like I'm using Google Maps.

        You (and the mods) can call me a troll if you want, but if patent law is supposed to protect innovation, ho
        • It's funny that many of you guys furiously bash patent law until MS uses a technology similar to Google.
          • Well, as I said in the above post, I'm still happily bashing patent law.

            My personal opinion is that especially in the case of online apps like these, people will be vastly best served if nobody's allowed to patent anything. Google should not be allowed to patent their draggable interface (and they apparently didn't anyway) and MS should not be allowed to patent anything they add, and both can continue incorporating the others' improvements.

            Of course it'd be better if they were open source, since they could
    • MSN's online maps copied Google Maps? That's news to me! IIRC, Terraserver [microsoft.com] came into existence not long after Google was incorporated... long before their maps.
      • Try Terraserver, and then try Windows Live Local. One of them seems suspiciously like Google Maps. One of them came to market at a time that seems suspiciously like they're trying to compete with Google Maps. Specifically, one of them uses the same draggable interface that Google Maps uses.

        Also, my original post says 30% insightful, 30% informative, 20% flamebait. How does that get me modded down? And how does 30+30+20=100? Sigh.
        • Hey I got an idea - how about only until recently, browsers couldn't do "dragable" things?
          • If Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo had it in their mind to start their browseable maps project a year earlier, they still could have created what they did and got it too work on a similar percentage of browers. This wasn't true in 2002 yet, but if Google Maps hadn't been so cool, I think Yahoo and MSN's maps wouldn't have been draggable until much later in the game.
  • Worldwide (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:24PM (#14214870)
    For users outside of the US and UK Live Local is the better one. Google Maps/Local still ignores most parts of the world
    • Re:Worldwide (Score:3, Insightful)

      by n0dalus ( 807994 )
      For users outside of the US and UK Live Local is the better one.

      I live in Australia [cam.ac.uk], and Google Maps zooms in close enough to just see my house and car [google.com]. With Windows Live I can barely see my city [live.com]. They are using different map services, so I guess it just depends where you live.
  • Something weird... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bill Walker ( 835082 ) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:24PM (#14214876)
    If you do bird's eye view for my office [live.com], there are tons of people in the street on 5th avenue. It's too disorganized to be a parade, and Madison has traffic on it, so it wasn't the blackout. There are also two circles of people in the northern part of the image. Anyone know what gives?
  • Cor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tehshen ( 794722 ) <tehshen@gmail.com> on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:24PM (#14214877)
    Works for me with Galeon under Linux. Looks like we're not being ignored anymore!
    • Re:Cor (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Don't worry, they'll fix that soon.
    • I'm using galeon too (the best browser ever made), and right-click is not working for me, because I'm using gestures (they are quite useful ;).
    • Re:Cor (Score:3, Informative)

      by CODiNE ( 27417 )
      Works for me with Galeon under Linux. Looks like we're not being ignored anymore!

      But doesn't work under Safari... You know Bill must be pissed when their stuff works on Linux before it does on a Mac. I KEED! I KEED! No really.
  • Innovative (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ReDiLect ( 936918 )
    Lately it's google that comes up with the most innovative ideas and MS chasing their behinds. I wonder when the Google OS will appear..
    http://www.e-guides.biz/ [e-guides.biz]
    • But then Microsoft would have to release an operating system too! Oh, wait...
    • Re:Innovative (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dragoonmac ( 929292 )
      And when Google releases an OS it'll be cool for a month or two, then it'll start having bugs, and slashdot users will go eh... and then pretty soon we will all grow to hate google, make broken logo and monolithinc Larry Page icons. I mean, windows 3.1 was freakin awesome if you were a dos user tired of doing everything by command line and couldn't produce a copy of GEOS, man, I loved GEOS...
  • Initial Reactions (Score:3, Informative)

    by funny-jack ( 741994 ) on Thursday December 08, 2005 @07:37PM (#14214965) Homepage
    • bird's eye view
    • right-click menu
    • funky dragging behavior
    • smooth dragging on bird's eye view is limited to a 3x3 square
    • much slower than Google Local/Maps overall.
  • I always wondered why the color schemes weren't uniform for Google maps. Do Brits have different anthropologized map visualization techniques than New Yorkers? See NYC [google.com] vs London [google.com]. Same thing for Microsoft. But it's still completely different, London compared with London. This same spot in London [live.com] has yellow/orange highways while Google shows them as green.

    One aside, I don't like how so much information is embedded into the "permalink" - why is it relevant to embed my SEARCH HISTORY into the link? Here's an

    • That's because they persisted your scratch pad in the URL. I really like this feature as it allows me to share a scratch pad via a link without any server identity.

      For me, the way Microsoft manages the search data is what makes Virtual Earth preferable to Google Maps. For example, when you interact with a map, the search results auto-update to reflect the current visible map.
    • It does not work in Windows Live, but it does with Google Maps.
  • Windows? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Maxmin ( 921568 )
    This is probably an obvious answer to /.ers, but what on earth does http://local.live.com/ [live.com] have to do with Windows (other than the o/s the service runs on?) This appears to be just another web app, with the windows adjective thrown in for no other reason than brand recognition.

    And maybe it's also a sneaky effort on MS's part to convince internet users that dynamic DHTML+JS web pages are somehow related to their operating system... NOT. Kind of surprised it's not "MSN Local Live", or "MSN Live Local" or so
  • The right-click feature is nice, but it could be better. Something I wish google-maps would implement for a while. Similar to how ppl have hacked google-maps for things like subways -- you shouldn't have to create a whole new webpage. If google-maps allowed you to create a file (e.g. say in your gmail account) that created predefined paths, how great would that be? User defined landmarks, paths, and comments (imagine you could put stickies anywhere you wanted) could make google-maps a *really* powerful and
    • After playing around some more, I did notice some other cool features. The compass allows you to switch orientation. Also, the scratch pad at least implements some of my previous rants .. although the lesser of them.
    • While there aren't many interface features that beat Google, I don't think the bird's eye view functionality is simple and Pictometry International may be the only company with extensive imagery like this.

      I wonder if Microsoft has an exclusive relationship with Pictometry International. Probably wouldn't be in PI's best interest, but Microsoft could definitely buy their best interest.
  • Looks like Gates has dug up the corpse of Sidewalk [wikipedia.org], sewn it back together, and is now presenting it as something shiny and brand new.
  • I did the same exact hybrid view of a location, it was the identical satellite photo, but not identical quality. The Google picture honestly did look clearer, the Microsoft picture had a more 'tan' tone to it.

    The Windows 'Welcome' popup box was very unimpressive. London, England did not work in WinLive zoomed all the way in (you get faded camera icons with slashes through them,) Google Maps worked fine all the way zoomed in to Parliament Square.
    WinLive gave me an 'Orbitz' popup ad when I did a new s
  • for a fairly rural area in WA state, live gets in much closer. looking at the scale listed at the bottom of the maps, which looks like about an inch for both systems, live gets down to 100 yards (albeit in black & white), and google 2000 ft. even at the 2000ft level, google is very grainy and pixelated. at 100 yards, live still offers a fairly high-res image.

    for reference the address entered was "camano hill rd, camano island, wa".

    for an urban location in san jose, ca, live gets down to 30 yards, an

  • right click (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sunwolf ( 853208 )
    I really love the right click features - getting directions to and from places you don't know the exact addresses of are a godsend.
    • Much agreeance there. That was actually one of the reasons I bought a copy of Microsoft Streets and Trips a couple years ago. Whether it's because you don't know the address, the maps aren't quite up to date, or that you're trying to get around some data wonkiness (Ever been in one of those cities which has four streets with the same name, but in different parts of the city and entirely unconnected to each other?). The slightly transparent directions pad gets a thumbs-down from me though. The transparency i
  • http://news.com.com/Microsoft+offers+a+new+angle+ o n+maps/2100-1032_3-5986057.html?tag=nefd.top [com.com]

    http://www.directionsmag.com/article.php?article_i d=2047 [directionsmag.com]

    Directions Mag is/will probably provide a deeper analysis since it target specifically the geospatial domain, not general technology.
  • This by far sums up Microsoft better than any other sentence I've ever read or heard or even said.

    Found Located in the settings box.

    []Don't ask about installing Microsoft Location Finder

  • Try the mouse wheel! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MTO_B. ( 814477 ) on Friday December 09, 2005 @01:05AM (#14216743) Homepage
    I accidentally used the mouse wheel, and was surprised by it zooming in and out, actually that is quite nice. Try it ;-)
    • You sure? I just tried the mouse wheel, and it scrolled the area up and down. It was kind of funny seeing the little arrow and zoom box scroll over the Windows Live logo and then up off the top of the page :)

  • This is sweet! Holding down middle click allows you to draw a box and zoom into that region!
  • Windows is going live with a 'new online local search and mapping service. [...] The final word on which service is better remains to be seen but this competition will certainly benefit the end-users.

    I think this is the first time I have ever seen the words "Windows" and "competition" in the same story on Slashdot. *rubs eyes*
  • Canada ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Mictrosoft does it again. They forgot completely about Canada. The only thing that shows up in the search is Ontario Power Generation, because lord knows, if New York State could not tap into our power grid, bad things would happen! But seriously, I searched for the CN Tower, and it told me no dice!! On google I get PICTURES taken from and of the CN Tower. MS, pull up your pants, and get with it!!

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!