MSN Discovers Earth

Today Microsoft released MSN Virtual Earth, the latest entry in the increasingly crowded mapping market. The “Earth” in the title is a bit generous; the service is very USA-centric at present — odd, as MSN’s own MapPoint service has streets and address data for around 30 countries. (But then if Google’s already moved on to Google Moon…)

Anyway, I gave the new site a cursory look and was pleased to discover that it worked just fine (including the slightly tedious map zooming effect) in Firefox, with no plug-ins necessary. This being Microsoft, however, there’s also a plug-in available that allows you to… find yourself. With the 4MB “LocationFinder” plug-in installed, your browser will attempt to find your location by probing nearby Wi-Fi hotspots. (That would be 802.11b/g, not GPS. You’re out of luck if you don’t have wireless.)

Now, I love technology as much as the next guy — okay, more — but I’ll be damned if I’m ever going to be reduced to using wireless routers to find what city I’m in.

Hit Me With It