Bing has done an impressive job of growing since its launch two years ago. Sure, Microsoft had a massive budget, and yes, grabbing Yahoo! was a very big boost for the company overall. That doesn’t change the fact that, fighting against the monopolistic behemoth that is Google, Bing has managed to get a quarter of search share. There are plenty of good choices you can blame for that growth, including the implementation of shopping, travel, and entertainment features. But one of the often overlooked features is Bing Maps, a service that’s highly competitive with Google’s version.
Bing has taken their Maps a step further as of the May 31st release of a new “Streetside View,” which (as you might have guessed) is Microsoft’s feature that mirrors Google Street View. Streetside View previously allowed users to explore “panoramic bubbles” that didn’t connect with one another but that gave a single-spot view of the surrounding area. The new version allows you to scroll up and down the street and get a stronger sense of the area’s overall appearance and layout. The notation structure is somewhat different than that of Google Street View, and Bing hasn’t photographed as many areas, but otherwise this feature will look very familiar to those who’ve used Google Maps.
This choice to switch to a full panoramic, scrolling, thorough setup may be a risky one, if Google’s precedent gives us any indication. Google has been fighting against lawsuits in many countries thanks to its Street View service, and several countries have banned Street View entirely.
Bing Maps may have been overlooked largely because of the mandatory Silverlight installation that preceded many of the rich features. However, as Microsoft looks to the future they’ve acknowledged that Silverlight had its time and place, and it’s no longer a wise part of their web services. The company is transitioning to HTML 5 as a foundation, which means most of these map features are or will be available on any modern web browser.
[via the Bing Blog]