For those of you who have wondered why Google Earth was a separate application, and just wished you could get to the same type of view through your browser: You're in luck.
Google today announced a new feature in Google Maps that brings the interactive 3D view of Earth directly to your browser. What's the catch? Well, it requires the Google Earth plugin, but once you have that, you can use pretty much any browser you like. If you have Google Chrome, you're already set.
You can view the new map view by clicking on the "Earth" button at the top of a map. You will be flown directly into a Google Earth view where you are able to zoom and pan around with your mouse, or on-screen controls. Neat.