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Windows Live Local Goes StreetSide

Windows Live Local has added a new feature: street-level images. Now, while Amazon’s A9 has had block images of storefronts for a while, Microsoft’s approach sends you driving down the street in a virtual car.

You choose between a sports car, race car and walking view. You see the street through the car’s windshield, three images (front, left and right) on the top half of the screen, surrounded by the car’s dashboard. On the bottom half of the screen, you see the roads, along with the image of a car. Using the keyboard, you can drive the car through the streets, with the images at the top updating as necessary.

I’m told that, on a fast enough connection, images update instantly, fast enough that you feel like you’re driving down the road, but I guess my connection isn’t enough. I’ve found that the best results are not with the default Hybrid view, but with the Street view, which shows you just the pictures, so you know exactly where to drive, with a decent idea of what to expect.

They won’t say which cities are coming, largely to manage expectations, but also to prevent people from tracking the van and standing on the streets with signs so as to get in the index.

Notice the Xbox 360 controller lying on the dashboard in the virtual cars. It works well in IE and Firefox, and runs, albeit buggy, in Firefox.

Scoble’s video on Channel 9 is pretty interesting. I ran into Robert yesterday at SES, and he was talking up StreetSide. He mentioned that there are a lot more options for the user interface, since the cameras are mounted all around the car. I noted that it would be interesting to point a camera at an upwards angle (in big cities), so as to see the buildings from street level.
(via Emad Fanous)

March 1st, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Local, Windows | one comment

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