Windows Live Local & Maps Adds Traffic & Social Sharing
Microsoft has updated their Windows Live Local service, adding real-time traffic flow and incident reporting and MSN Spaces & Messenger integrated social networking tools that enable users to save and share their favorite local experiences. The service is also expanding its beta release to the U.K. and a limited version to Canada.
“This release is important, as it represents the first time that people can easily capture their rich local knowledge and share it with all Windows Live Local users and the Internet as a whole,” said Stephen Lawler, general manager of the Virtual Earth business unit at Microsoft. “Our geographic expansion and integration with popular communication tools like Microsoft Outlook and Windows Live Messenger also enable us to bring the power of Windows Live Local to many more people than we do today.”
The new Sharing Capabilities which bring a more social appeal to Windows Live Local include:
* Real-time traffic flow. Customizable driving directions are now even more useful with the addition of real-time traffic flow and incident reporting provided by Traffic.com. This functionality will be available only in the U.S. release.
* Collections. Social networking functionality allows customers to create lists of favorite landmarks and locations, attach personal photos and save them to a Scratchpad. Collections can be saved, recalled later, “permalinked,” and shared with friends and community in e-mail or through their MSN Spaces blog.
* Integration with Windows Live Messenger. Sharing maps and location information from within Windows Live Messenger chats is easier. Users begin a sharing session from the Actions menu. People sharing a chat session can see and interact with the same Windows Live Local map and benefit from a shared mapping and local search experience.
In addition to new sharing of information enhancements, Windows Live Local has also launched new tools for businesses and developers:
Virtual Earth map control was also released today, enabling developers to bring the same great mapping, imagery and local search capabilities into their business applications and “mashups” (Web applications that seamlessly combine content from more than one source). Virtual Earth map control is available to all developers free of charge for limited use and can be licensed for commercial service and support along with the rest of the Virtual Earth platform components. Windows Live Local is built on the Virtual Earth platform, and includes Virtual Earth map control. Key new features include support for address lookups and driving directions, improved local search functionality, and the ability to easily display standard data sets and Windows Live Local user Collections.
The MSN Virtual Earth platform also promises easy, flexible programming and builds on Microsoft’s long-term commitment to the Web development community. The Virtual Earth API allows developers to embed Virtual Earth’s rich mapping capabilities into their own Web pages. Customers in vertical markets, such as commercial and residential real estate and travel and hospitality, have benefited extensively after implementing the Virtual Earth platform as a means to boost online presence and functionality. Developer information can be found at the MapPoint Developer Center on MSDN and the group blog.