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Microsoft Live Local takes on Google and MapQuest

Microsoft Live Local takes on Google and MapQuest

Stephen Lawler, Microsoft's general manager of MapPoint and MSN Virtual Earth, just gave me a tour of the new mapping service the software giant will be unveiling tomorrow. The new service is called Microsoft Live Local and will compete with existing mapping services, such as Google Local and MapQuest. At launch, the Microsoft Live Local service will offer imagery for about 25 percent of the nation by population, not by geographic area, which means that you're more likely to get mapping information for Los Angeles than for Kokomo, though Microsoft is constantly expanding its database. One of the more interesting features we saw was the ability of the service to pinpoint the wireless access point you're connected to, based on an SSID and MAC address database Microsoft has compiled, and tell you your location without the need for you to enter your coordinates. You could then create a custom pushpin to mark your location and plot driving directions to another location and share that information with others via e-mail. The service offers a nice, 45-degree angle bird's-eye view that is more revealing than the straight-down, rooftop-oriented satellite imagery available in most other mapping services.