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Microsoft announces 3-D mapping imagery

Companies can buy ad space in Virtual Earth 3D

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Microsoft Corp. today announced a new three-dimensional online mapping interface that is part of its Live Search offering. Live Search users who type a query into the search bar and click on the "maps" tab will see their search results in a map context that offers the option to explore the mapped area using two-dimensional views, either aerial or bird's-eye, or three-dimensional models with Virtual Earth 3D. The new technology compiles photographic images of cities and terrain to generate textured, photorealistic 3-D models, Microsoft announced. "By helping people visualize information in far more useful and intuitive ways, Virtual Earth 3D takes search to an entirely new level," said Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman, in a statement. "The immersive 3-D experience provides a more powerful and engaging interface that delivers better experiences not only for consumers, but also for developers and advertisers." Competitor Google has also launched 3-D imagery and rendering tools, and imagery ...