If you follow Microsoft Virtual Earth I'm sure you've picked up some blog posts that posted some of the features for this release, but those posts mysteriously disappeared. Information leaked out and you wondered, "Was that real?" Well, finally the definitive source on the new Virtual Earth Web Service and the new Virtual Earth Map Control 6.2 I deliver to you. If you want to skip the descriptor and just get coding you'll be happy to know the Virtual Earth AJAX Control SDK on MSDN, as well as, the Virtual Earth Interactive SDK have both been updated.

New Mobile Support
image Users can now build mobile applications with Virtual Earth, which offers more features and enhancements to support mobile platforms such as, Windows Mobile, RIM Blackberry and Apple iPhone. Rich imagery creates immersive mobile end-user experiences that bring location-based information to life.

  • Rich Imagery for Mobile. Mobile applications feature geocoding and new maps rendered specifically for mobile devices.
  • More flexibility to develop mobile features. The new Virtual Earth Web Services will support features (mapping, geocoding, and routing) that can be implemented for use on mobile devices.

Enhanced International Opportunities
This latest release of Virtual Earth provides more support and more detail for more countries around the world. Enjoy the functionality and features of Virtual Earth in a broader range of countries.

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  • New localized maps. Maps are now available in English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish for users in Western Europe. These localized maps are supported for both desktop and mobile applications.
  • New international reverse geocoding. Users can now find international addresses with reverse geocoding, which is now available anywhere Virtual Earth has routing.
  • Extended parsing capabilities. With expanded parsing capabilities, users will experience better match rates for addresses in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Richer Data: See More in the Platform
The Virtual Earth platform is designed for the enterprise and public sector user, from features to support. This 6.2 release enhances the platform infrastructure with new geocoding and parsing improvements, as well as more detail revealed in relevant ways.

  • image Pushpin clustering. The new map control includes the ability to zoom in on a map to better visualize a cluster of points. The pushpins can be clustered and surfaced at larger zoom levels, or hidden from view at smaller zoom levels, to give a better user experience.
  • Expanded number of rooftop geocodes. Virtual Earth now offers 85 million unique addresses—more than 65% of all rooftops in the U.S.
  • New near-matching capabilities. Using near-matching capabilities, customers can find locations using alternate and similar spellings, resulting in a more relevant search experience.
  • New landmark hints in routing. Customers in the U.S. and Canada can now use maps that feature familiar landmarks, such as gas stations and fast-food restaurants, called out by name.

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  • New imagery metadata. Users can now find out the relative age of a given image, which will help them assess if the imagery is still relevant to their needs.
  • New imagery. Find locations that come to life, with richer bird’s eye and 3D imagery of more locations in cities across North America.
  • New functionality to hide base layer tiles. Developers now have more granular control to hide the Virtual Earth base map tiles for those applications in which they choose to use their own imagery or overlays.
  • Weather integration. Bring your 3D maps to life by featuring near real-time local weather and cloud formations.

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Enhanced Functionality: Do More in the Platform
The latest release of the Virtual Earth platform offers a richer user experience and more intuitive functionality. There are more ways for customers to search for more types of mapping information, in ways that are tailored to their individual needs.

  • New Virtual Earth Web Services. The new SOAP based Virtual Earth Web Services v. 1.0 offers static map images (.gif, .jpeg and .png), direct map tile access, one-box search functionality, geocoding, reverse geocoding, routing . It supports Virtual Earth on the desktop and on mobile devices.
  • New one-click directions. Through the Web Services, customers can now get directions in one click, choosing from route options by shortest time, shortest distance, or traffic flow.

Don't forget about my October 2 "Momentum Webcast- See More and Do More with Microsoft Virtual Earth (Level 100)" covering the release. Also, tune in to Mark Brown's Webcast diving a little deeper into the code on October 3.

Maybe we should take the old Vista marketing campaign - WOW. Mmm, maybe not. How about, I'm a PC VE! Ah, well.

CP