Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Up your street - Microsoft's take on Streetview

If you live in London you may see a car with cameras mounted on the roof coming down your street more the coming weeks. You are probable to assume that it's those folks from Google refreshing the Street view service which shows views along just about every road in the UK. But you'd be wrong - the car will be operated by Google's deadly rival Microsoft.

As it tries to make its Bing search engine a more potent rival to the company that dominates search, Microsoft is sending its cars crossways London to start building something called Street side. This service is already obtainable in the United States and is now coming to Europe. According to Microsoft, Street side "provides a true-to-life view you can explore to get a feel for a place and plan your activities. Travel along streets, view storefronts and parks, and navigate to destination without an address.

Ah, you might think, that sounds just like Street view. No, no, says Microsoft, it's very dissimilar. For one thing, we won't be going up every street, just sticking to downtown areas and traveler locations. For another, we will be distant more careful about telling everyone in advance that we are doing this.

When Google was gathering the images for Street view it ran into a number of privacy rows, particularly when residents of a village near Milton Keynes forced the driver of one of its cars to turn around and depart because they were sad about his cameras peering over their hedges.

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