Microsoft is refusing to be shown up by Google today with the Street View maps, so they too have launched a big addition to their Virtual Earth 3D mapping solution. Unlike Google Earth, Virtual Earth is not an entirely separate application. It is an addition to the Internet Explorer and Firefox Web browsers which adds 3D viewing capabilities for Windows Live Maps. Virtual Earth does require a small installation, but you still run it through your browser.

Despite the horrible experience I originally had at installing Virtual Earth 3D last year, this time it was much better. In about 2-minutes I had the 3D maps up and I was zooming around New York City as if I was a bird. I just had a hard time remembering where I needed to go to install Virtual Earth, and then I remembered that I just needed to click the "3D" button on the page:

Virtual Earth 3D in New York City
Click to Enlarge

Once you have Virtual Earth 3D installed, visit this link to be taken to New York’s Central Park where you can navigate around the city looking at all the beautiful buildings. As you can see in the image above, everything looks very realistic and you can see how all of the buildings tower over Central Park.

Besides for New York City, the 3D "cityscapes" were also added for:

  • Manhattan, NY
  • Queens, NY
  • Yonkers, NY
  • Cheektowaga, NY
  • Niagara, NY
  • Austin, TX
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Speedway, IN
  • Aurora, IL
  • Joliet, IL
  • Naperville, IL
  • Cape Coral, FL
  • Tampa, FL
  • Savannah, GA
  • Hollywood, CA
  • La Jolla, CA
  • La Mesa, CA
  • Miramar, CA
  • Oceanside, CA
  • Levis-St Romuald, Canada
  • Ottawa, Canada
  • Northampton, Great Britain

Other than the new 3D buildings, Microsoft also added a ton of locations around the world for their Birds Eye View coverage. After seeing Google launch their Street View maps today, I was skeptical of what Microsoft would do to keep their foot in the mapping business. With all of the upgrades and high-resolution imagery they added today it definitely shows that they aren’t throwing in the towel.

So what’s Yahoo! Maps going to introduce in order to show Microsoft and Google up? I think it would be cool if they incorporated Flickr photos that have been Geotagged.