Maps, satellite photos and Grand Theft Stupid

I’m going to go out on a limb here and disagree with Mike Arrington, who calls the new Microsoft Live Local street-level photo thingamajig a “killer” in one of his typically breathless posts on TechCrunch, in which he says it will help Microsoft’s continue to “crush” others in the Web 2.0 portal game. I tend to agree with David Galbraith, who suggests quite succinctly that the drive-by map feature is total bollocks and that the Microsoft team have “lost the plot.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The interface, as David points out, is ridiculous – a cheesy, video-game style rendering of a car’s cockpit, which you can switch from a regular car to a race car (complete with fire extinguisher). Quirky and fun? Maybe. I would add “stupid and useless” to that list as well though. As one commenter noted on TechCrunch, “not sure what use I would have for something like this.” A fair point. Not to mention, of course, that Amazon’s A9 launched a similar street-level photo feature about six months ago. True, it doesn’t let you “drive” your virtual “car” down the streets, but I actually see that as a positive rather than a negative.

Now if Microsoft could somehow add virtual people to the streets and let you mow them down like in Grand Theft Auto or Carmaggedon – that would be cool. After all, it is called a “street-side drive-by.” But it would still be useless for mapping or finding your way anywhere.

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