SEW Blog can now officially report that Windows Live Local, the new local search + aerial imagery service, will go live online beginning at 9am PDT on Thursday.
The new service, will be located at http://local.live.com (again, not live until 9am PST Thursday), contains a range of new capabilities. The most visible of these features is a new 45-degree bird's-eye view of major U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and Las Vegas. Covering about 25 percent of the U.S. by population, these bird's-eye images are captured by Pictometry International Corp. via low-flying airplanes and then integrated with road and satellite maps to simulate 360-degree panoramas that can be viewed from four compass directions.
Not Just Imagery
From the news release:
Uusers will be able to point to anyplace on the map that interests them and immediately calculate directions to it. Now, even if the user doesn't know the address or name of a place ? such as a park, shopping mall, parking garage or other spot that is hard to identify by address or name ? he or she can simply point, click and get directions to that location. In addition, the new service provides a range of new driving direction capabilities, including step-by-step directions using bird's-eye or satellite views, identification of construction areas along a specific route, and several innovative print options such as print-only directions, the addition of notes to printed directions, and thumbnail pictures of each turn in the route.
Pushpins will also become available to mark important locationd and shared via IM, e-mail, Web logs, ot MSN Spaces.
More in the official MS News Release.
OK, now back to my post prior the official confirmation:
According to the news release, Windows Live Local we will begin to see imagery licensed from Pictromery Intl. that we learned about earlier this year in Chris's SearchDay story (last paragraph) when Virtual Earth last July.
From Chris's article:
Microsoft promises that the next beta release of MSN Virtual Earth will include oblique, or bird's-eye, imagery licensed from Pictometry International Corp. that shows cities, landmarks and points of interest at a 45-degree-angle view.
Also in May, Adena Schutzberg and Joe Francica from Directions Magazine offered more info about these types of images in this article. Pictometry technology is mentioned and seen throughout this story.
For some people and for numerous industries the aerial imagery is very useful and what Pictomery plans to deliver will make it even more so. However, as I've said before, in the long run (after the coolness factor wears off) will it help someone decide where to get their car repaired or purchase a new pair of shoes? Don't get me wrong I LOVE this stuff but is it an equally big deal for my mom, my dad, or my girlfriend?
Another isssue, will MS get some "mojo" and buzz around this launch?
As Greg Sterling points out many people don't even know about local search and other search services.
Right on, Greg. I've been saying the same thing for a very long time. Sometimes those of us who follow this for a living forget that many people just don't know about anything else but the search box and then it's just type 2.8 words and hope for the best. Two issues: Awareness of services and then how to use them for full value. A little of this goes a very long way. I also think that with the amazing amount of releases from all companies the industry as a whole as made all of this seem overwhelming.