A competitive battle with great results for customers
After lagging behind Google Maps, Microsoft this week unveiled an overhaul of its Bing Maps Web site that supplements the traditional bird's eye view of cities and other locations with rich photographs on the ground. In addition to the street-level images pioneered by Google Maps that let people "move" along the roads pictured, Microsoft's technology stitches together images uploaded by users into three-dimensional photo collages. The technology, called Photosynth, lets users post on Bing Maps interior shots of everything from restaurants to museums to hotels.
Microsoft's new program lets users upload photos to Bing Maps, such as this picture of a gallery inside New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Microsoft technology and similar efforts by Google are further signs that online maps are evolving from a digital version of an atlas into something more akin to a videogame. Both Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., and Google, Mountain View, Calif., are experimenting with a variety of tools that make hunting for locations far more immersive.