The Virtual Earth team at Microsoft has updated their platform and also added some interesting and useful new features to it in an attempt to improve the Live Search Maps offering and make it more competitive with Google Maps.
Perhaps the most useful feature in this update is the ability to provide directions with respect to well known landmarks such as petrol pumps, fast food restaurants, convenience and grocery stores, hotels and so on. However, this will be made available only to users in Canada and the U.S.A. for now.
Users will now get a better bird’s eye view of various locations in several cities of North America. 3D images will also be available. Live Search will also provide information about the local weather conditions, and 3D pictures of cloud formations over given areas will be updated every 3 hours.
Locations with similar names and alternate spellings will be accessible through a ‘near-matching’ feature. Related neighborhoods will also be included in the search results.
Localised maps of all regions will be available on desktops as well as on mobile phones. Mobile Internet users will be provided with better imagery than before.
Users will now be able to decide whether they want to choose driving routes based on the shortest time taken, the shortest distance or direction of traffic flow; and all this will be made available with a single click.
Microsoft is definitely as good as Google, if not better, as far as the technology behind their maps is concerned. That, however, is not enough to make Live Search Maps the leading service. Microsoft needs to seriously rethink its overall user acquisition strategy or they will continue to lose market share in spite of having a better product.