I mentioned the recent Google Earth which is very cool and free. Now there is another mapping tool this time from Microsoft named Virtual Earth. The Virtual Earth is still in beta and not all features are available. It is very interesting and the future feature road map and demos have some very advanced features. Right now you get a view looking down or a road map. In the future you will be able to orbit and change views including birds eye viewing of virtual buildings for a selected region. Right now they have the an inter sting tool named the Microsoft Location Finder to locate where you are based on your IP or WiFi connection. Currently it thinks I am about 50 miles to the East but that may have to do with my LAN network currently. The satellite images from MSN Earth are far better quality than the ones I have seen in the Google Earth but Google has more features currently. Also the MSN Virtual Earth does not require installing an application on your machine as it runs in the web whereas Google Earth is a standalone application that connects to the web to get data.
It will be interesting as these two products that are free for the basic versions evolve but I really like seeing where I am going to visit beforehand from the satellite imagery.
MSN Virtual Earth Goes to Beta (Microsoft-Watch.com)
LINK MSN Earth location map for Autodesk Civic Center offices in San Rafael California. This is where most of the development of AutoCAD is done and my office is located.