When users visit Live Search and type a query into the search bar and click on the 'maps' tab, they are offered their search results in a map context that offers the option to explore the area using 2D views (aerial and bird's-eye) or 3D models with Virtual Earth 3D.
Microsoft claimed that the technology offers photorealistic 3D models with engineering-level accuracy.
3D models are available initially only for 15 US cities: San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Fort Worth.
Terrain imagery in 3D is available globally, and Microsoft promised to offer 3D imagery "in an ever expanding set of cities".
Other features provided by Live Search include access to real-time traffic information in selected US cities, and access to business listings 'yellow pages' and people listings 'white pages' that allows consumers easily to find local information and act on it.
Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, said: "The immersive 3D experience provides a more powerful and engaging interface that delivers better experiences not only for consumers, but for developers and advertisers."
Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of the Online Services Group at Microsoft, added: "Local search is one of the fastest growing categories online today, and adding features like 3D will only help move the category further ahead and help Windows Live attract more customers and advertisers."
Microsoft said that advertisements will be available within the Virtual Earth 3D environment, designed to appear as billboards throughout Live Search in the 3D view.
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