Today we launched a new version of the Virtual Earth API. The release has a host of new features and takes advantage of some of the capabilities you've been envying on Live Search Maps. Below is a laundry list of new features in Virtual Earth 6.1 that we added today. The good news is that 6.1 is fully backwards compatible to Version 6.0. You just need to update you JavaScript Link URL string to get the new version..The Interactive SDK was updated, as well as, the SDK on MSDN.

Immersive Imagery

Virtual Earth is an industry leader in providing precise views of the world through bird’s eye1 view and panning, and improved 3D model accuracy and resolution, among other features. Precise imagery creates immersive end-user experiences that bring location-based information to life.

· More Detailed 3D Experiences: With this latest release, the map detail for Las Vegas, NV; Phoenix, AZ; Dallas, TX; and Denver, CO features improvements in 3D model accuracy and resolution detail to reveal more buildings, small terrain features, building textures, and trees that enhance overall realism. This enhanced 3D map detail will soon roll out to the more than 250 cities where 3D models are currently available.

You thought our photo-texturing was good before? Check it out now. This is the Wynn Hotel where I'll be staying in next week during the NAB show. Yes, those are trees!

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· Tailored 3D Tours. Media producers can customize video output of 3D fly though tours in six resolutions, in 15 or 30 frames per second, and can add photos and hide or display pushpin icons.

· Bird’s Eye View in 3D. Users can easily toggle bird’s eye view on and off for a seamless end-user experience.

· Bird’s Eye Hybrid View. Customers can now select a new map style called Bird’s Eye Hybrid that adds street names to the bird’s eye maps to provide end users better visual context and orientation.

Go Padres!

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Enhanced Location Functionality

This latest release of Virtual Earth provides organizations with a host of new features that deliver directions—in more languages—to get users where they’re going faster. With enhanced tools that provide greater flexibility and control over the development of location solutions, organizations can continue to update and enhance their online experience to help them remain competitive and provide satisfying end-user experiences.

· New Walking Directions. When traveling on foot, users in North America and the European Union can now find the most direct route to walk to their destination, ignoring one-way streets, medians, and other detours that pertain to motor vehicles.

· New Traffic-based Routing. Want to take the frontage road and avoid the highway at rush hour? Users can now choose alternate routes based on current traffic flows to get where they’re going faster.

· New Reverse Geocoding. Users in the U.S. can now find the closest street address based only on latitude and longitude coordinates from a GPS or other geospatial device.

· Improved Localized Directions. Organizations can now provide users with localized driving or walking directions in 15 languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Italian, among others.

· New Locales. The Virtual Earth dashboard, or navcontrol, is localized to support languages including English for U.S.-based speakers, Japanese, Italian, Spanish for U.S.-based speakers, as well as French for both France and Canada-based speakers.

Enhanced Infrastructure

The Virtual Earth platform is designed for the enterprise user, from features to support. This 6.1 release enhances the platform infrastructure with new cross-browser support to reach more users. The Interactive SDK is available now to demonstrate the latest features and functionality.

· Safari Support. The new map control includes improved support for Apple Safari 2 and new support for Safari 3, enabling Mac users to enjoy many of the features of Virtual Earth that are available on Internet Explorer®.

· Improved Printing Support. Printing support for maps is enhanced to print the driving route in relation to the map. Printing support is also expanded for cross-browser support of Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Firefox 2 for PC, and Safari 2 and 3 for Mac only.

· Updated Interactive SDK. Customers can now access the new Virtual Earth Interactive SDK for online viewing or via download, to demonstrate the new functionality of the Virtual Earth map control.

In addition to the new features we've fixed over 100 "bugs!" Note: a bug isn't necessarily a bug. Sometimes it's a whole new feature, a documentation bug or yes, a real bug. All goodness. And, don't forget, 6.1 is fully backwards compatible to 6.0 (unless, of course, you've downloaded the .js and did some customization of your own - then you're in trouble). Get cracking!

CP