We have just released a new version of Live Search Maps built on the Virtual Earth platform.  The team has worked very hard to get this release out the door.

There are many new features and improvements, so it is difficult to list them all.  However, some of the major new features include:

  • 1-Click Directions - This is a great feature that shows how to get to a location in 1-click without having to insert a start address. It shows the directions from all major roads in the area to that location.  For example, most people know how to get out of their neighborhood to a major highway, so you don't need the entire route.  This also works great for parties or large gatherings if you need to send out directions to several people coming from different locations.

  • Birds Eye in 3D - Now in 3D, you can zoom in on a city with 3D models and then click on the Birdseye link in the navigation control to overlay Birdseye imagery on top of a 3D scene.  The control will show an outline of the Birdseye imagery (similar to the Photosynth UI) and you can click and see the imagery overlayed on top of the 3D.

  • Improved Search - The search interface has improved and is now simpler to use with a single search box.  You can refine the scope for Businesses, People, Collections, and Locations

  • Traffic Based Routing - When getting driving directions, you can now select an option to route around traffic which takes into consideration the real time traffic conditions.

  • Category Browsing - When you search for a city, a list of common business listing categories in that area is now displayed with counts to help you find what you are looking for. As you zoom in and pan the map, the counts will update. You can also click on a category and get more detailed categories.

  • Collections Search - You can search for public collections using keywords and find collections you are interested in.

  • Collections Explore - You can explore collections and find public collections in an area by panning and zooming the map.

  • Collections Data Import - You can now import data into collections from GeoRSS, GPX, KML, or KMZ data sources.

  • 3D Models - Using the new Microsoft Virtual Earth 3DVIA Technology Preview, you can now create your own 3D buildings and models in a collection.

  • 3D Tours - You can now make your collections viewable as 3D tours.  You can set the preferred view of an object and add a photo with information.  This also can work with custom models created with the Virtual Earth 3DVIA Technology Preview.  You can share the tour with your friends, and you can even record the tour as a video.

  • Improved Details Page - There is now more information on the details page for business listings.

  • Improved Print Page - The print page is new and improved.  It has an improved layout and makes it a lot easier to print maps and driving directions.

For more details on the new Live Search Maps update, check out this post at the Virtual Earth Spaces Blog.