Microsoft is to closely cooperate with the OpenStreetMap project, whose founder it has hired.
The initiative, announced on Tuesday, is starting with Microsoft's release of aerial Bing Maps imagery to the open-source mapping scheme's contributors. Microsoft also announced its hiring of Steve Coast as principal architect for Bing Mobile, saying he would "help develop better mapping experiences for our customers and partners, and lead efforts to engage with OpenStreetMap and other open source and open data projects".
"Today, OpenStreetMap has a patchwork of imagery available that is sometimes good but sometimes not very high resolution or simply unavailable," Coast said. "This is the first step of what I believe will be an awesome series of announcements from Microsoft. Microsoft is a big place, and there are already significant F/LOSS efforts around so it shouldn't surprise you too much. Look at Iron Python or F# for example."
The OpenStreetMap project has more than 320,000 contributors who have built up a significant rival to the likes of Google Maps and Bing Maps. According to the OpenStreetMap website, the "legal details" of the Bing Maps imagery still needs to be worked out, after which volunteers will receive instructions on how they can use those photographs to aid them in building their maps.