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Hands on: new Microsoft Live Maps improvements impressive

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Hands on: new Microsoft Live Maps improvements impressive

Microsoft made a major update to Live Maps this week that introduces a number of new features and improvements to the online mapping service. Users of the service can now export their maps in various GPS formats, see improved renderings, and subscribe to RSS feeds for a certain region, among a plethora of other things. The improvements make it a stronger competitor to other popular mapping services (namely Maps), although Live Maps could still benefit from more mindshare from the general -using public.

Seeing the world in

Like Maps, Live Maps has offered a bird’s-eye/satellite view for some time now (in addition to standard 2D view). But one thing that Live Maps has over Maps is view, complete with pretty renderings of buildings and roads. The Live Maps team rolled out “version 2″ of view with this slew of updates, which is currently limited to a few select cities: Las Vegas, Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix.According to the Virtual Earth/Live Maps blog, version 2 includes higher-resolution textures and even rendered trees, in addition to “thousands more buildings” from inside the cities all the way out to the suburbs. “Hundreds” of cities will get the improved view before the end of the year, although compatibility is still limited. On every Mac I tried to use view with, it told me that my was not compatible—in fact, it is only compatible with IE6, IE7, and Firefox 2 under Windows.

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