Microsoft is opening up its Virtual Earth offering to let businesses add imagery, video or written material to locations on a map.
Matthew Quinlan, group product manager of enterprise mapping for Virtual Earth, said that the new capabilities are due to the release of multimedia plug-in Silverlight 3 Beta, which is planned for an official launch today at the MIX09 Microsoft developers conference in Las Vegas.
"Now Virtual Earth will allow users to display data for customers in a more accessible form and stream data directly on to the map," he said.
The product will first be directed at web agencies for interactive marketing campaigns, Quinlan said, although he acknowledged that there will be many unforeseen uses of the new offering. These could include news outlets using the new features to pinpoint stories to specific locations where news is breaking.
Businesses will be able to display multiple marketing materials or news stories from one location using special "de-cluttering technology".
When asked whether Microsoft had any intentions of following Google in its latest mapping of the ocean, Quinlan explained that this was not on the software giant's agenda.
"What we intend to do is driven by consumers and, although some oceanographers enjoy seeing the ocean floor, a lot of consumers are less enthralled," he said.
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