Microsoft following Google Earth – launch ‘MSN Virtual Earth’

It seems that recently Microsoft can only follow and immitate the current innovators, rather than getting out to the market first with new products. But after all, this is how Microsoft have always made their money, ever since buying the rights to QDOS from Seattle Computer Products in 1980, and licensing it to IBM as MS-DOS for the first IBM PC.

Microsoft has announced their own version of satellite image browsing, a la Google Earth (technology which Google gained from acquiring Keyhole), called MSN Virtual Earth.

To give Microsoft credit, they actually had a very innovative service a few years ago, not unlike Keyhole/Google Earth today, called TerraServer, which allowed the user to browse black and white satellite imagery and purchange prints online. This Microsoft site has an interesting history of the project, which was I believe a project to demonstrate the use of Microsoft SQL Server operating with over a terrabyte of online data. What’s interesting, is that at the time the system was being put together (in the late 90’s), in order to acheive a terrabyte of storage, the system was using over 300 9GB hard drives. I don’t think it will be too much longer before terrabyte drives will be available to home users in desktop PCs…

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