A very cool (but for me, almost unusable) version of Virtual Earth was released today by Microsoft called "Virtual Earth 3D". Instead of using a separate application to view 3D imagery, everything can be done in a browser through maps.live.com.
Did I say "a" browser? Yep, it only works in Internet Explorer with the help of a plugin -- bad move considering the huge number of people using browsers other than Internet Explorer.
Besides the Internet Explorer limitation, the performance of Virtual Earth 3D is incredibly bad on average computers. Having a high-end gaming computer is the only way to truly enjoy what this product offers. Here are the requirements to use Virtual Earth 3D according to Microsoft:
- A computer that's running Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, or Windows Vista
- Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or Windows Internet Explorer 7
- 250 MB or more of hard disk space
- A 1.0 GHz processor (2.8 GHz or faster recommended)
- 256 MB of system memory (1 GB recommended)
- 32 MB video card (256 MB recommended) that supports Microsoft DirectX 9, with 3D hardware acceleration enabled
- A high speed or broadband Internet connection
It's Google Earth's turn to blow our socks off with the same functionality. When they do begin offering detailed 3D views of buildings, I am willing to bet my mid-range laptop will thank me for using Google.