Microsoft Virtual Earth vs Google Maps

Microsoft launched its Virtual Earth web application this morning – Virtual Earth is an attempt by Microsoft to take on Google’s Google Maps web application.

After a couple of initial hiccups in the launch, the application is now live.

If this were a report card, I would be writing on it “Must try harder”! – searches on Virtual Earth for “Cork, Ireland” or “Dublin, Ireland” yield a “No results were found.” error so it looks like Microsoft the world begins and ends at the US borders (even Canadian cities are not included)!

The application doesn’t work in Firefox on the Mac but does work in Safari.

In a search for my sister’s address (my sister lives in Texas, specifically Horseshoe Bnd, McKinney, TX 75069) the Google Maps result was far superior to the Virtual Earth result – see below:

The Virtual Earth result was zoomed way out and zooming in didn’t find Horseshoe Bnd for me:
Virtual Earth search for Horseshoe Bnd, McKinney, TX 75069

The Google Maps result for the same search zoomed right in on the street and is therefore far more useful
Google Maps search for Horseshoe Bnd, McKinney, TX 75069

Microsoft have a lot of work left to do with this app before Google need to start worrying. Having said that, the fact that microsoft have entered this area can only be good because now Google have a little more reason to keep innovating and developing Google Maps!

To track updates to Virtual Earth, see the Virtual Earth blog.

19 thoughts on “Microsoft Virtual Earth vs Google Maps”

  1. Very much agree.
    I played with the site very early yesterday before it got swamped and the US-centric stance so far both amazed and annoyed me. I also found it slow, clunky and it just feels very unpolished. Maybe they should have sat back and not rushed it to to publication.

    They may well end with a good product but they must realise that there is a bit more to the globe than the US.

  2. It’s a bit surprising since it seems much slower and unpolished than the demo they were playing around with on the channel 9 site two months ago. I think they are crazy to have released it in this state. Why let everybody see it *before* you update the old satellite and aerial images!?? Maybe they were going to be another 6 months before getting it up to par and they figured they better be out there?

  3. Possibly Richard, but this seems to harm them more than helping. You only get one chance to make a first impression, as they say and in this case, first impressions are not good!

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  5. I was wondering how long it would take someone to have an irrational anti-MS comment. Then Podz did just that.

    Getting away from the fact that the MS product isn’t as good bashing it for being US centric is ridiculous. For months and months and months after launch Google Maps didn’t work outside of the US. Then all of a sudden the UK and Ireland appeared in the ocean but no Europe. Even then the coverage (Ireland especially) was terrible.

    So give MS time until you critise them for that. It’s completely unfair especially when Google have often been ridiculously US-Centric.

  6. Dave,

    I have to say I agree with Podz on this one – Microsoft were under no compunction, whatsoever, to release Virtual Earth at this time. They could just as easily have waited until they had the imagery for even Canada say, within their db before launching. Instead they launch with only US data entered. Crazy.

    Remember, Dave this application is supposed to be a Google Maps killer. How soon will I go back to check if they have entered Irish data? Not very soon – not when I can go straight to Google Maps now for Irish data (or English, or Spanish, or whatever data).

  7. So Tom, how come you went back to Google Maps to look for Irish data after the initial frenzy of GMaps related news last spring. Why exactly were Google entitled to leeway to develop their product but MS aren’t.

    You could just as easily have critized Google for launching an incomplete product when people like Yahoo, MultiMap and Mapquest all had Irish data when Google launched their product.

  8. You could just as easily have critized Google for launching an incomplete product when people like Yahoo, MultiMap and Mapquest all had Irish data when Google launched their product.

    That’s very true Dave – I could have but, to be honest, I didn’t check out the offerings from Yahoo, MultiMap or Mapquest.

    Why? Because they don’t have the same brand awareness as Google or Microsoft. There are only going to be these two titans fighting in this space – all the rest are merely incidental.

  9. I think calling Yahoo! incidental is a huge mistake. Yahoo! and Google are the big players in Search/Portal. Yahoo’s revenues are way way bigger than Google. Google are a tiny company compared to MS and a small one compared to Yahoo.

    MS only has 15% of the search market so it is dwarfed by the other two. In many ways Yahoo has a number of products far superior to Google’s offerings.

    So basically I think writing off Yahoo as ‘incidental’ is a huge mistake, Yahoo have a better revenue stream than any of the other players in search and are proving just as big a draw for graduates as Google and MS are way behind. This is a battle between Yahoo and Google not between MS and anyone.

  10. Dave,

    if I consider Yahoo incidental in the search market it is simply because I received 942 links from Google in July 05, 51 from MSN Search and 38 from Yahoo!

    They may be getting revenue but they are not being used for search.

  11. Interesting Dave,

    thanks for the link – from my own stats I would have written Yahoo off from a search perspective (and my site is in their directory!) – I wonder where is the traffic going from their site (and why I am getting a relatively high number of MSN Search users)…

  12. Thanks for the link Dave – it does look interesting but seems for now to be in closed beta (and US only) – any idea when it will be opened outside of the US?

  13. Not too sure at all when it’ll launch properly or outside the US. I must say they seem to be very slow with launching it. I doubt they’re having trouble getting advertisers (the rest of Yahoo has plenty) and they aren’t bad at launching web apps either so I’m hoping it means it’s got loads of innovative features.

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