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Microsoft enhances its Bing Streetside View

Bing Streetside View now lets you pan up and down streets more seamlessly to help you find specific stores and other locales.

Taking a virtual tour of Broadway courtesy of Bing's revamped Streetside View.
Taking a virtual tour of Broadway courtesy of Bing's revamped Streetside View. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Trying to find a specific location using Bing Streetside View is potentially a bit easier now, thanks to a few new tweaks from Microsoft.

Using your mouse to drag across the screen, you can now pan up and down different streets to track down specific sites and locations. As you virtually stroll along each street, Bing quickly updates the street-level photo view, showing you a seamless perspective of your tour of the neighborhood. You can drag your mouse left or right to travel along your current street. Making a right or left at an intersection is just a matter of clicking on the link for the new street you want to investigate. You can even click on a U-turn icon to go back the other way.

You can also easily keep track of where you are in the context of the city or neighborhood. Above the street-level panoramic view is a bird's-eye view map showing you the name of each street as you walk along.

The new navigation is a major improvement over Streetside's old interface, in which you had to click on different panoramas or "bubbles" to travel down a street. The latest enhancements to Streetside are based on work done at Microsoft Research designed to make panoramic navigation quicker and easier.

Beyond offering the panoramic views of streets and city blocks, Bing also displays the names of businesses, restaurants, and other types of stores as you reach their locations. For example, clicking on the name of a retail store brings up a page with its address and other details. But clicking on the name of a restaurant displays not just its address but also a link to its menu and any user comments or reviews.

You can access Streetside View for any supported location directly from Bing Maps. From the standard Bing Maps page, type in the address or location you wish to see. Then click the icon at the top that looks like a person standing on a circle. Your mouse pointer will latch onto a figure of a little blue person, while the streets and regions capable of displaying in Streetside View will themselves light up in blue. Simply drop the little blue person on the area you wish to navigate, and the view will automatically change to Streetside.