Sunday, January 7, 2007


Photo-Texture This...

So Google Earth came out with a new build with better support for photo-textured, 3D buildings. While it continues to get better, this feature is still a distant 2nd to Microsoft Live's support.

Here are some screenshots of Denver - a city Google Earth actually has decent support for - in both GE and VE.

Google Earth

Microsoft's Virtual Earth

[Updated, here's a fly-through video of Denver in GE. ]

Pan back to see more of the city, and the lack of textured building support in GE is even more apparent. Virtual Earth is the clear winner on this feature.

It remains to be seen whether Google's "let somebody else build it" strategy will win over MS's "we'll build the models ourselves" approach. In the long term, I'm hedging my bets on Microsoft here. I'm not sure how long they've been gathering their data, but it's unbelievable how many building they already have coverage on - I'm stunned every time I find the shack in Joe Random's backyard modeled.

I'll still stick with Google Earth for most of my earth lurking; the satellite imagery is better (Santa Barbara street level is still in black and white! C'mon guys.), and the 3rd party options are a generation ahead in GE. I don't care about lack of Mac support, or having to use IE - support for Mac and Firefox would be nice, but neither affects me personally.

Folks will continue dinging VE for embedding the street names into the image (so the text is upside down when South is "up"). But the 3D buildings are just so much more pretty in Virtual Earth.

Competition rocks.

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