Live Search Maps

Live Search Maps

Infobox Software
name = Live Search

caption = Virtual Earth 3D within Live Search Maps
developer = Microsoft
latest_release_version = v7
latest_release_date = April 10 2008
latest_preview_version =
latest_preview_date =
operating_system = Microsoft Windows
genre = Web mapping service Virtual globe
license =
website = [] []

Live Search Maps (previously "Windows Live Maps" and "Windows Live Local") is a web mapping service provided as a part of Microsoft's Windows Live online applications services suite and powered by the Microsoft Virtual Earth framework.


treet Maps

Users can browse and search topographically-shaded street maps for many cities worldwide. Maps include certain points of interest built-in, such as metro stations, stadiums, hospitals, and other facilities. It is also possible to browse public user-created points of interest. Search can cover public collections, businesses or types of business, locations, or people.

For some countries, like South Africa, and South Korea, Live Search Maps has data on highways and some arterial roads, but lacks local streets or alleys. There is also detailed map data available for several global cities in developing countries like Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, and Mexico City. However, for such cities, the detail of the map decreases significantly as one moves outward from the city center.

Live Search Maps has a tendency to mark certain unsigned three-digit Interstates in the United States, such as I-444 [ [ Live Local Search ] ] , I-110 [ [ Live Local Search ] ] ,, I-478 [ [ Live Local Search ] ] , and the Interstate Highways in Alaska. [ [ Live Local Search ] ] .Still other auxiliary Interstates, whose signs are not posted for various reasons, are labeled incorrectly as part of another Interstate. Examples are I-695 (DC), which is labeled as part of I-295 (DC) [ [ Live Local Search ] ] , and I-878, which is labeled as I-678. [ [ Live Local Search ] ]


Live Search Maps also includes several terabytes of satellite and aerial imagery. In many areas, maximum resolution is approximately 4.5 pixels per meter. Elsewhere, especially in the most remote areas of the world, top resolution is a few orders of magnitude less. Users may toggle labels on or off, choosing whether to see the ground as it would appear from an airplane versus closer to how it would appear on a map.

List of countries that have detailed satellite

* United States
* Canada
* United Kingdom
* Germany
* Italy
* Australia
* New Zealand
* Japan
* India

Bird's eye view

In over 100 cities in the United States [ [!250 List of bird's eye view cities in the US] ] , Canada and in over 80 European locations, [ [!1193 List of bird's eye view sites in Europe] ] a bird's-eye view offers aerial photos from four angles. These Pictometry images are much more detailed than the aerial views from directly above buildings. Signs, advertisements, pedestrians, and other objects are clearly visible in many bird's eye views.

3D Maps

The 3D Maps feature lets user see buildings in 3D, with the added ability to rotate and tilt the angle in addition to panning and zooming. To attempt to achieve near-photorealism, all 3D buildings are textured using composites of aerial photography.

To view the 3D maps, users must install a plugin, then enable the "3D" option on "Virtual Earth". In addition to exploring the maps using a mouse and keyboard, it is possible to navigate the 3D environment using an Xbox 360 controller or another game controller in Windows Vista or Windows XP. As of April 2007, users may also use 3Dconnexion's "SpaceNavigator" input device.

Currently, roughly 68 cities worldwide may be viewed in 3D, including most of the major cities in the United States and a few cities in Canada, the United Kingdom, and France. [ [!101&encType=1 List of 3D cities] ] Some additional cities have had a select few important landmarks modelled in 3D, such as the Colosseum in Rome. Terrain data is available for the entire world. It is also possible to use a simple 3D modelling program called Virtual Earth - 3DVIA to add one's own models to the 3D map.

The following is a partial list of cities that have most areas rendered in 3D:

United StatesAtlanta, Augusta, Aurora-Naperville, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Boston, Buffalo, Cape Coral, Cedar Rapids, Chattanooga, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Coral Springs, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jackson, Jacksonville, Joliet, Kansas City, Knoxville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Mobile, Montgomery, Nashville, New Haven, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Redmond, Rockford, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Savannah, Seattle, Shreveport, St. Louis, St. Petersburg, Tacoma, Tallahassee, Tampa, Tucson, West Palm Beach.

CanadaCalgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Toronto

United KingdomBrighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Eastbourne, Gloucester, Liverpool, Northampton, Plymouth, Southampton, Swindon, Wolverhampton

FranceToulouse, Vannes




Microsoft announced in March 2008 that it will be releasing its latest software technology called “ClearFlow”. It is a Web-based service for driving directions available on in 72 cities across the U.S. [ [ Live Search Maps] ] The tool took five years for Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence team to develop. ClearFlow provides real-time traffic data to help drivers avoid traffic congestion. Differing from Yahoo! Maps, Google Maps and Mapquest, ClearFlow not only gives information for alternative routes, but supplies traffic conditions on city streets adjacent to highways. [cite web|url=|title="Microsoft Introduces Tool for Avoiding Traffic Jams"|author=Markoff, John|publisher=New York Times|date=2008-04-10|accessdate=2008-04-10] Clearflow anticipates traffic patterns, while taking into account sporting/arena events, time of day and weather conditions, and then reflects the back ups and their consequential spill over onto city streets. Often, ClearFlow found it may be faster to stay on the highway instead of seeking alternative side street routes, which involve traffic lights and congestion as well. [cite web|url=|title="Microsoft Implements 'Clearflow' Traffic Artificial Intelligence in Live Maps"|author=Glazowski, Paul|publisher=Marshable Social Networking News|date=2008-04-10|accessdate=2008-04-10]

According to U.S Microsoft employee and artificial intelligence expert, Eric Horvitz, “…ClearFlow would be integrated into Live Search Mobile and other Microsoft mobile applications, including in-car navigation and personal navigation devices.” [cite web|url=|title=Four Year Effort Culminates In “Clearflow” Traffic on Microsoft Live Search Maps”|author=Sterling, Greg|date=2008-04-10|accessdate=2008-04-10] Clearflow will be available at no cost. The one draw back of Clearflow is that it offers no real-time updates regarding highway and road closures or accidents. [cite web|url=|title=Microsoft ClearFlow aims to get drivers out of jams"|publisher=electronista|date=2008-04-10|accessdate=2008-04-10]

Other features

* Terrain details are also available in 3D mode.
* Finding, viewing, and printing driving directions
* Traffic viewing (in several major cities)
* User points of interest that can be stored and shared
* Drawing on maps
* A location finder that can locate the user's location
* Integrated route calculation
* Street-level photos (from all directions) in Seattle, WA (city center) and San Francisco, CA (city center). Users can view these photos by driving a race or sports car, or by having a walk. Street-level photography is currently only available as part of a separate [ tech preview site] .


Live Search Maps was based on existing Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft MapPoint, and TerraServer. The original version lacked many of its now-distinguishing features, including birds' eye view and 3D maps, and the Collections functionality was limited to a single "Scratchpad" of points of interest. Upon its release in December 2005, Windows Live Local became the public face of the Virtual Earth platform. On November 6, 2006, Microsoft added the ability to view the maps in 3D using a .NET managed control and managed interfaces to Direct3D. Microsoft has recently referred to this product officially as "Live Search Maps", integrating it as part of its Live Search services.

Government Facility Deletions

Early in 2008, following criticism that the similar program Google Earth may be used as a reconnaissance platform by terrorists, Microsoft began a program of deleting high definition aerial views of military bases and other similar installations from Live Search Maps. [ [,2933,335751,00.html - Pentagon Bans Google Earth From Military Bases - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News ] ]

One example of such a deletion can be witnessed by viewing the Aviano Air Base in Northern Italy. [] Whilst the base is viewable in low resolution from a low zoom level, zooming in reveals only farmland. It is unclear what location the photographs actually depict. Another example is the naval base in Toulon, France, which was blanked out in white. Also, while trying to view government buildings in Washington D.C. such as the White House, the image becomes extremely pixelated within the property lines.

United Kingdom

From 11 April to 15 April 2008, users in the UK who navigated to were automatically redirected to, making it very difficult to access Live Search Maps. [ [ Multi
] The issue was due to what the Live Search Maps team called "a couple of unfortunate bugs." [ [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!14442.entry Virtual Earth / Live Maps: Live Maps is back in the UK! ] ]


* v1 (Beagle) (July 2005)
* v2 (Calypso) (December 2005) - "Bird's-eye imagery" released.
* v2.5 (February 2006)
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!1415.entry v3 (Discovery)] (May 2006) - Real time traffic, collections, new API.
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!4097.entry v4 (Endeavour)] (September 2006) - People search, drawing on maps, new imagery.
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!7573.entry v5 (Spaceland)] (November 2006) - 3D viewer, building models in 15 cities.
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!7986.entry Data update] (December 2006) - New 3D models and high-resolution imagery for 6 new areas.
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!8017.entry Data update] (January 2007) - Over 100 European cities with bird's-eye coverage added.
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!8457.entry Data update] (29 March 2007) - 3.8TB of bird's-eye imagery, orthophotos and 3D models of 5 British cities.
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!8495.entry v5.5 (Falcon)] (3 April 2007) VE 3D plugin for Firefox, GeoRSS support, area calculations.
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!9276.entry v6 (Gemini)] (15 October 2007) - New data, party maps, traffic based routing, v6 MapControl, Bird's Eye in 3D, etc.
* [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!14129.entry v6.1 (GoliatH)] (10 April 2008) - Improved quality of 3D models, improved KML support and new export capabilities, street labels on Bird's Eye imagery, MapCruncher integration, HD filming capabilities, Clearflow traffic report system.
* [ v6.2 (Helios)] (24 September 2008) - Multi-point driving directions, landmarks in directions, weather, real stars, new data.


Microsoft states that Live Search Maps can be used with Internet Explorer 5.5 and later, with Mozilla Firefox 1.5 on Windows and Mac OS X, and with Safari [ [!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!14512.entry Virtual Earth / Live Maps: Safari and iPhone get the Birds Eye Treatment ] ] . Firefox on Linux and Firefox 2.0 and 3.0 also appear to work. Opera is stated to be usable "with some functionality limitations". []

Users of browsers that are not considered compatible, as well as users of versions of compatible browsers that are not supported, will be directed away from viewing the map without an error message.

WebKit-based browsers such as Konqueror have experienced problems accessing Live Search Maps and related websites. [ [ Bug 15120 - Offender Locator page does not load (Windows Live Maps mashup) ] ]

The 3D Maps viewer plug-in requires Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, or Windows Vista, with Internet Explorer 6/7 or Firefox 1.5/2.0/3.0. [ [ System requirements for Virtual Earth 3D (Beta)] ]

ee also

* Comparison of Web Map Services
* Geoweb
* Google Earth
* Google Maps
* Microsoft MapPoint
* Mobile GMaps
* NASA World Wind
* Pictometry
* TerraServer-USA
* Yahoo Maps


External links

Live Search Maps

* [ Live Search Maps]
* [ Live Search Maps Collection Hub]
* [ Live Search Maps Australia Mashup]
* [ Live Search Maps China Mashup]

Official Team Blogs

* [ Virtual Earth Platform Blog]
* [ Official Virtual Earth Team Blog]
* [ Virtual Earth For Government Team Blog]
* [ Virtual Earth 3D Team Blog]

Developers resources

* [ Via Virtual Earth] - Resource for Live Search Maps developers
* [ MSDN MapPoint Center] - Official developer center for Virtual Earth and MapPoint Web Services


* [ Web.Maps.VE] - The industries First ASP.NET AJAX Virtual Earth Mapping Server Control. This control allows map events to be handled from within Server-Side .NET code without Postbacks; completely eliminating the requirement to use JavaScript. A full JavaScript API is also available to allow fully customized implementations.


* [ Flash Earth] - Compares satellite images from Virtual Earth with other mapping websites such as Google Maps, and Yahoo Maps
* [ Bird's Eye Tourist] - Links to Bird's eye view images
* [] - Bird's eye view cities in MSN Virtual Earth in Belgium and The Netherlands
* [ ninemsn Local Blog] - Blog from the product team at ninemsn in Australia, with a heavy focus on Live Search Maps

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