I hate to say anything positive about Microsoft because they are synonymous with evil (just kidding!), but I must admit that the latest update to Virtual Earth — or whatever we’re supposed to be calling it nowadays, which is probably Windows Live Web Search Satellite Virtual 3-D Planet — is pretty damn cool.
I read about it over at Search Engine Watch and had to download it and check it out, based on the pics that Danny Sullivan put up, with full 3-D rendering — in better than Half-Life 2 detail — of downtown San Francisco and a bunch of other major cities. Microsoft even tipped its Stetson towards the Great White North by putting up a few buildings in Calgary and Vancouver, although apart from three or four major office towers, everything else is 2-D.
Best of all, cyberspace wouldn’t be cyberspace without advertising, right? So there are virtual billboards hovering here and there over office buildings and stadiums and whatnot, large enough that if they were in real life they would block out the sun. Is anyone going to want to advertise inside Virtual Earth? I would bet they are falling over themselves to do so. What if you’re checking out the city you’re moving to? There’s an ad for a real estate broker.
All we need now are those floating billboards with video commercials on them from Blade Runner (video is coming soon, Microsoft says). Oh, and maybe an add-on pack that would let you race cars (but not like this stupid thing Microsoft tried to pull) or hunt virtual bad guys down the streets of your favourite city. I can see it now: Grand Theft Auto — Vancouver.