April 11th, 2008
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!
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.