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  Microsoft Adds 3-D City Models to Live Search
Time: 18:34 EST/23:34 GMT | News Source: Microsoft Press Release | Posted By: Jonathan Tigner

Microsoft Corp. today announced U.S. availability of Virtual Earth™ 3D, a new online mapping interface that is part of the Live Search offering, providing consumers with a three-dimensional experience to search, browse and explore the real world online.

When people visit Live Search (, type a query into the search bar and click on the “maps” tab, they get their search results in a map context that offers the option to explore the area using two-dimensional views (aerial and bird’s-eye) or three dimensional models with Virtual Earth 3D. This new technology compiles photographic images of cities and terrain to generate textured, photorealistic 3-D models with engineering level accuracy.

“By helping people visualize information in far more useful and intuitive ways, Virtual Earth 3D takes search to an entirely new level,” said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. “The immersive 3-D experience provides a more powerful and engaging interface that delivers better experiences not only for consumers, but also for developers and advertisers.”

Three-dimensional models are available initially for 15 U.S. cities: San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Fort Worth. Terrain imagery in 3-D is available globally, and Microsoft expects to offer 3-D imagery in an ever expanding set of cities. Other features provided by Live Search include access to real-time traffic information in select major U.S. cities, and access to business listings “yellow pages” and people listings “white pages” that allows consumers to easily find local information and act on it.

Also available:

  • Channel 9: Duncan Lawler - Virtual Earth 3D: What. How. Why.

    Virtual Earth is now in 3D! Here, we chat with Duncan Lawler, Development Manager on the Virtual Earth team. His team of sharpshooter developers have written a fully managed API that will render any type of mapping coordinate data into 3-D space. You can program against a scriptable API or you can write create applications on top of the VE3-D platform from any managed language in VS 2005. Very cool stuff... Tune in.

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#1 By 7760 ( at 11/6/2006 8:50:40 PM
Just to warn you: it's a beta and it's slow. Once you've installed the software and clicked through the intro screens, scroll down the Welcome pane on the left and pick one of the cities. Be prepared to wait 1-3 minutes for it to finish. It'll download successive levels of detail, making it look like garbage at the start. The window will say that it's done downloading, but the applet is still downloading in the background. Give it a few minutes and you'll finally see the 3D buildings that you're expecting. It's neat to play around with, but, as you can expect, a long way from being complete and usable. One thing that I do like is that it works in your browser, not as a standalone app, like Google Earth.

#2 By 37 ( at 11/7/2006 3:11:53 PM
Took about 45 seconds for them to load for me. Works pretty darn slick.

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