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Yesterday Microsoft’s Virtual Earth blog announced a whole host of new features for their Live Maps service (that’s their version of Google Maps) and Virtual Earth 3D (that’s their Google Earth competitor).

For me, the key feature of the announcement is “Neighbourhood Subscribe via GeoRSS” which provides an RSS feed of your area, aggregating geo-located content that Live Maps has scraped off the web. Sounds great!

But, when I tried to actually use Live Maps, by clicking an example link to Virtual Globetrotting sights in Spain, I found myself at the homepage of multimap.

Surely I must have clicked the wrong link? Nope, turns out any UK visitor to maps.live.com gets “helpfully” redirected to multimap. The Multimap blog explains how, since being acquired by Microsoft, they are now “the lead consumer mapping experience for Live Search in the UK”.

This would be fine if Multimap was just a re-branded live maps, but in fact it only offers just a small subset of the Live maps features! All the information in that Virtual Globetrotting link above is ignored and you end up at the useless homepage.

The Multimap blog acknowledges that “it may have been a while since you last used Multimap.com”, but there’s a reason for that – it’s rubbish. Adding a few of the Live maps features only makes it slightly less rubbish, and for UK visitors breaks every link to a specific map.

For now, you can around the redirect by going to this Live maps link or by adding “mkt=en-us” to the URL parameters, but that’s not really enough.

If the goal is to lure visitors away from Google Maps then Microsoft are going about it the right way with Live maps, and the very, very wrong way with Multimap. Hopefully they reverse this decision sooner, rather than later.

Updated: Well everyone shouted and eventually they listened: Live Maps UK has been restored.

16 Responses to “Microsoft adds great new features to Live Maps, blocks UK visitors.”

  1. Scott Says:

    Hi,

    When i try it I don’t get diverted to Multimap? And for some reason there’s no local information available on maps.live.com like there is on Multimap.

    Cheers

    Scott

  2. James Turnbull Says:

    Hi Scott, I just did a lookup on your IP and it says you’re in the Netherlands, which is why you’re not getting redirected (it’s currently UK only).

  3. Scott Says:

    Cheers James,

    I’m actually in West London but my tech guy is based in France…he’s probably done something creative that I fail to understand :)

    Must admit, I’m liking the Multimap site

  4. Rob Says:

    At the very least, it seems to work on Safari now!

  5. Jonathan Says:

    This is another example of how Microsoft have too much power and influence online. What’s going to happen when they take over Yahoo? All Flickr users forced to use dire MSN Spaces albums? Thanks for the tip of how to get back to Live Local, though.

    There is one advantage of Multimap – there’s actually a feature that lets you link directly to the map you are viewing! In Live Local, it only lets you post a link to an MSN Space or other Microsoft service, there’s no way to find the link directly. (I did find a way once, but it was rather roundabout and far from straightforward.)

  6. Sam Says:

    There’s another way round this. In your web browser, change the preferred language for displaying pages from English (UK) to English (UK). In IE7 this is under Tools, Internet Options, General tab then look under the Appearance section and click “Languages”. In Firefox, this is under Tools, Options, General tab, then click Choose and change the default language to English/United States(en-us).

    Works perfectly!

  7. Jonathan Says:

    @Sam: I presume you meant “…to English (US)”. Some of us won’t do this as we resent the incursion of American English into British life as it is. While I doubt many websites use that setting to provide content in a different type of English, it will go into the server’s logfiles and show in up statistics, etc., ultimately leading to the impression that more people use American English than actually do. In the same way, I won’t change my browser identification to show I’m using Internet Exploder just because some badly-written sites won’t allow visitors to use Firefox. If you’re British, be proud of it; don’t go around telling everyone you’re American! There is actually a Firefox extension that allows you to send “fake” browser ID strings to selected sites only, which may be one solution.

  8. Hugo Says:

    Microsoft, the gloves are off on this one.

    This was a SH1T decision and it’s made me FURIOUS. Until yesterday I was singing the praises of Live Maps and getting everyone to move over from Google… and now I’ll have to go back to them all and tell them to ignore what I said. It’s now absolutely unusable.

    By the looks of the posts flooding other blogs, everyone else feels the same way. How on earth could you not have predicted this would happen?

    I’ll now have to devote my time to finding a way around your geolocation so that I can pretend to be anywhere but the UK. If I can’t do that, then it’s bye bye Microsoft, hello Google.

  9. Justin Drerup Says:

    What about all the map ‘Collections’ which I saved at maps.live.com – they don’t seem to be available to me at Multimap. I share these maps with many people and regularly use them for personal use.

    There is a good reason I’ve been using map.live.com over Multimap for a while. Microsoft – what are you doing forcing us to use this site!

    I’m a big Microsoft fan however you have just lost me to Google Maps…

  10. Andrew Emmett Says:

    Like all other live maps users, WTF is going on… Live maps better be back or I’m going to google!!! I am sooooooo pissed of with this… Like so many others, I’ve been trying to convert people to live maps & then you slap up in the face with this!!! As nan would say “What a load of ol sh1t!!”

  11. Nick Marsh Says:

    Please join the Facebook group campaigning against the change to Multimap in the UK:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=14574166409&ref=mf

  12. Jeff Says:

    Looks like I’m going back to Google Maps as there is no way I’m using old fashioned Multimaps. Whoever made the decision to direct all UK traffic from maps.live.com to multimap.com deserves to be fired! I have hears that some other countries such as Australia are also being diverted to MultiCrap too. Fix up Microsoft or everybody will go back to using Google Maps!

  13. Alex Turnbull Says:

    It would appear Microsoft have reversed their decision, as I’m now seeing the correct page, and not Multimap.

    I wonder how Multimap feel about that?

  14. Andor Chen Says:

    well~

  15. Jason Davies Says:

    I must say I’m impressed by the latest Live Maps. Multimap definitely lost out to Google Maps a while ago. Hopefully a bit of competition from Live Maps will generate more innovation!

  16. titrain Says:

    It would appear Microsoft have reversed their decision, as I’m now seeing the correct page, and not Multimap.

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