Keeping the doctor away, Redmond style
July 26, 2005 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft wipes Apple from the face of the Earth. Virtual Earth, that is. A search for "1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA" renders only an empty field and some sort of barn. This is what it really looks like. Finding that other microcomputer company is obviously not a problem. Microsoft blames old photographs (from 1991) for the omission, but copyright notices on the images go only as far back as last year.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (22 comments total)
The idea that this is some sort of jab at Apple by Microsoft is absurd. Microsoft's satellite photos are simply years out of date. Their photograph of my neighborhood is at least six years old. Should I believe that Microsoft has wiped out the condo development that was built next to my subdivision?
posted by wadefranklin at 7:27 AM on July 26, 2005

I find it ironic that Microsoft is simultaneously criticized for editing maps, and for not editing maps. Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity outdated photos.
posted by scottreynen at 7:31 AM on July 26, 2005

I thought it was interesting too, when I put this in the other Virtual Earth thread. But, yeah, it came around that the photos date back to 1991 - heck they even have the old WTC still intact.

What's more interesting is that the world's most all-powerful and godlike software company can't get any more recent photos. Chumps.
posted by fungible at 7:32 AM on July 26, 2005

This is horrible. HORRIBLE!
posted by OmieWise at 7:33 AM on July 26, 2005

The issue is not whether Microsoft is editing out its rivals, obviously. The issue is that it expects to be competitive with 14-year-old imagery, which is mind-boggling. As a product, Virtual Earth isn't terrible, but this is definitely their "Eat Up Martha" moment -- a tremendous blow to their credibility that could have been avoided if they'd been more diligent in getting their imagery in order before launch. (Had Google done this when they launched their satellite product, we'd have found out, and pilloried them for it. Microsoft earns the Schadenfreude it's subjected to.)
posted by mcwetboy at 7:38 AM on July 26, 2005

Cool, does this mean my Apple loan's null? I should have gone for the 36 inch LCD then, damn.

mcwetboy, they don't have to be competitive, they just have to have something similiar to everyone else's pony or they feel left out. Microsoft would be the kid at the party with the offbrand Powered Ranger guy with the mismatched parts. But they'd be playing louder than everyone else nonetheless.

That Microsoft, what a scrapper.
posted by fenriq at 7:48 AM on July 26, 2005

It is a well-established fact that Jobs' Reality Distortion Field effectively cloaks his whereabouts from the prying eyes of his competitors.

It is also rumored that he can fold space, but this might just be the work of anti-Spacing Guild propagandists.
posted by ToasT at 7:49 AM on July 26, 2005

The Forbes article brings up an interesting flaw in both Google's and Microsoft's implementations. The maps are not dated, making it difficult to judge the validity of the information. The copyright date only covers the date that current version of the image was produced.

But, yeah, it came around that the photos date back to 1991 - heck they even have the old WTC still intact.

Shhhh, don't let nasty things as the facts get in the way of a good "meme." Moooo, MoooOOOOooo I say. Moooo.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:17 AM on July 26, 2005

Mapblogging is the new warblogging.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:39 AM on July 26, 2005

I'd be more impressed with Microsoft if they had done it on purpose. Might show everyone they still have a sense of humor. Although, they'd probably want to wipe Google off the planet before Apple.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:54 AM on July 26, 2005

Regarding the FPP statement: The 2004 copyright year is that of the derivative work (and there would be no copyright on the older USGS images as they are public domain). Besides, why would Microsoft claim an older copyright date when that expires sooner?
posted by rolypolyman at 8:59 AM on July 26, 2005

What I found most interesting about MSN earth is the integration with my mouse-wheel for instant zooming, something Google earth requires a full page refresh for still...
posted by nomisxid at 9:15 AM on July 26, 2005

Well, if I'm looking for a satellite photo of something that existed in 1991 but has disappeared since, I'll be sure to look it up on MSN! Also, as long as it's in the US only.

What a joke.
posted by clevershark at 9:23 AM on July 26, 2005

I wonder if Linus Torvalds' house shows up?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:04 PM on July 26, 2005

Wow, I haven't even bothered to look at Virtual Earth until now, and, well, it's confirmed for me now: it really goddamn sucks.
posted by blacklite at 12:14 PM on July 26, 2005

It's worse than that. The areal photos may be from any time period in the last 15 years according to Forbes, so one neighborhood may be 1991, the next may be 1998.

Granted, there is not much they can do about this, other than dating the frames.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:21 PM on July 26, 2005

Also, if I may point out, this is yet another service that builds on information that exists in the public domain.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:40 PM on July 26, 2005

The key is to copyright the public domain and deny you access unless you pay a fee. Like the beach in New Jersey.
posted by Slagman at 1:20 PM on July 26, 2005

Google 1 - Microsoft 0
posted by benkolb at 1:39 PM on July 26, 2005

There are some really good features here if MS can get some of their own sattelite imagery in here. The multiple search windows that minimize when looking for places for one. I also like the gentle low opacity street overlays. For high developed urban areas that haven't changed much this makes a useful marker.

Now it put the business I put in there on the total opposite side of the city... another matter entirely. This is like the "Kitchen Debates" -- in some ways we are ahead of you, in some ways you are ahead of us.

PS Does anyone know why Google maps refuses to render (just empty boxes) on my home version of FireFox. I'm guessing it's a Java error but I can't figure out how to fix it.
posted by geoff. at 1:42 PM on July 26, 2005

Well, God bless MS for one thing: at least they have (minimally) crappy old B&W aerial photography for virtually everywhere. Example: look at Westerly, RI. MS shows you the cars on the streets, Google shows you that horrible green goo that covers most of their version of the U.S. (Generally, I love google's new map offerings for what they're worth — but it's just ass-backwards to rag on MS for having old photos, when Google couldn't be bothered to wallpaper the country with old photos...)
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2005

The mouse-wheel for zoom is very nice.
The street overlays being way off where they should be in my neighborhood is not so nice.

Result: tie.
posted by Bugbread at 12:28 AM on July 27, 2005

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