Bing Maps (formerly Virtual Earth) evangelist Chris Pendleton has some news on the Virtual Earth ASP.NET Map Control:

Oh man, this has been a hot topic since we announced the Virtual Earth ASP .NET Control CTP last year. And, with today’s announcement to retire the Live Frameworks CTP the question (yet again) today is what will happen with the Virtual Earth / Bing Maps ASP .NET Control? In brief, it’s toast. It was great for what it was (ASP .NET wrappers for the AJAX control); but, we really needed to build a control that used the services in a direct fashion and were supported from Microsoft. Now, just to be clear, there wasn’t a whole lot of magic here other than we wrapped what the AJAX control already did into an ASP .NET friendly library. So, everything that it did can still be done just using JavaScript. [emphasis mine]

So, OK…the control is being discontinued. What’s a dev to do if you don’t want to tweak Javascript? Well, there is always the Bing Maps Silverlight control, which we used on the Tech-Ed Community Connection application. It’s got a lot of rich functionality, and according to Chris, it definitely has a future:

Finally, if you want a supported .NET interface from Microsoft, you can use the Bing Maps Silverlight Control which is currently in CTP. This WILL come out of CTP and become a supported version, so do not fear it will share the ASP .NET Control’s fate.

One last point…this highlights something pretty important to keep in mind about pre-release software. Sometimes, as with the Silverlight control, a team will provide very clear guidance about their intention to bring a piece of software to a full release status. Other software released as a community technical preview (or CTP) may be intended to get feedback on concepts that may or may not be released in the same form as the CTP version. As such, you should always exercise caution about relying on pre-release software, particularly in production environments.

Unless the team responsible for the CTP, Beta, etc. has either provided a go-live license, or has made clear commitments about the future of that software, you should assume that it may go through major revisions, and might even end up not released.

It’s often fun to play with the latest in bleeding-edge technologies…just remember that in doing so you can sometimes end up getting cut.

Bing - The Future of the Virtual Earth ASP .NET Control - Bing Maps Blog - Bing Community