MSN Releases Beta Version of Virtual Earth

Last May, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates began touting MSN Virtual Earth, the company's response to Google Earth. Gates demonstrated striking 45-degree oblique views of Manhattan with beautiful 3-D images of buildings—something Google Earth could only provide using boxlike geometric shapes.

MSN Virtual Earth launched today, but without those luscious images that Gates promised. The program also lacks the smooth interface offered by Google Earth, though it does have a few interesting features that Google Earth doesn't offer, at least for now. Also, we know Microsoft has found religion when it comes to search, and has backed its efforts with smart people and money, so despite the rough edges, I'm optimistic about what we'll eventually see with Virtual Earth. Today's SearchDay article, Microsoft Launches MSN Virtual Earth, has more.