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Update @ 3:30pm (11/2): Because there’s been confusion on this announcement, we want to make clear that this announcement was around the end of life of the 3D Map control. 3D Maps is not based on Silverlight and this announcement has nothing to do with our commitment to Silverlight. We continue to invest in Silverlight functionality, which delivers the richest possible experience for our users - specifically through our map apps that run in the browser on the PC and the Silverlight map control for Windows Phone 7 applications.
Update @ 8:45am (11/3): Added more detail on the difference between the previous Bird's eye that previously existed in the AJAX map control and the enhanced Bird's eye which will be made available for both our AJAX and Silverlight map experiences.
We reached out to customers to ask them what they wanted from the Bing maps imagery team and the answer was clear – more Bird’s eye, “everywhere”.
Today we announce progress on that front with the forthcoming release of a new “Bird’s eye” – the same 45-degree perspective, viewable from all 4 compass directions imagery that you love, enhanced to include seamless, smooth zooming/panning, life-like building models in urban centers and 3D-like terrain features.
The enhanced Bird’s eye previewed in our Silverlight client last year, but what makes this message special is that, very soon, it will be made available without plug-ins and at scale in through our AJAX map control (Bing.com/maps) but will still be available in our Silverlight experience (Bing.com/maps/explore). The image below is what you’ll currently see in Bird’s eye view in our Silverlight experience and what we’re bringing to the Bing.com/maps experience. The second image is an example of the current Bird's eye view in the AJAX map control (notice that this enhanced Bird's eye allows you to view Bird's eye at a higher altitude and has synthetic building models).
Enhanced Bird's eye currently only in Silverlight
Regular Bird's eye currently in AJAX
The upcoming release will be just the beginning. You can expect the experience to continue to evolve and get better as we strive to make Bird’s eye available everywhere.
With the new capabilities available in Bing.com/maps, the growth in Silverlight use, and the future with HTML5, we have also heard that customers want the best experience for the most people, without custom plugins for individual features. We have designed the new enhanced Bird’s eye with this in mind, so that the enhanced experience is accessible by users across technologies and platforms including desktop and mobile.
As a consequence, we are also announcing that we will be discontinuing investment in the Bing Maps 3D control Active-X plug-in. We don’t normally pre-announce new features or big changes; but, we want to make sure current 3D Maps users receive a heads-up rather than spring it unannounced. When the next update to Bing.com/maps is launched in the upcoming weeks, the option to view 3D Maps will be removed. Current users of 3D Maps can expect the following:
1. Permalinks and the desktop shortcut to 3D Maps will be redirected to Bing Maps with the nearest match to the experience they had in 3D. In most cases this will result only in a loss of the ability to navigate in full 3D. 2. After opening collections with 3D models, the 3D models will be represented as pushpins only. The models will not be accessible from collections. 3. Permalinks to tours will now open the collection manager with a message indicating discontinued support of the feature. Unfortunately there will no longer be an option to view the tour.
1. Permalinks and the desktop shortcut to 3D Maps will be redirected to Bing Maps with the nearest match to the experience they had in 3D. In most cases this will result only in a loss of the ability to navigate in full 3D.
2. After opening collections with 3D models, the 3D models will be represented as pushpins only. The models will not be accessible from collections.
3. Permalinks to tours will now open the collection manager with a message indicating discontinued support of the feature. Unfortunately there will no longer be an option to view the tour.
Sincerely, Brian Hendricks Bing Maps Product Manager
I think this could be a good news, I've never liked the ActiveX solution for 3D.
But what is missing in this post is the future direction about 3D feature. I don't believe Microsoft dismiss 3D completely (it would be really stupid), so what technology will replace the ActiveX? Ajax, HTML5, Silverlight.... or Google Maps?
Any chance that the Bing maps team could provide some idea of future direction for 3D mapping as Maurizio suggests? Any info would be great.
I second the idea to make the ActiveX code open-source so that we can continue to develop with it - since there is no replacement to migrate to, this would be really helpful.
But you have many developers out there, many of whom are selling or have sold products based on your 3D functionality and you will be leaving them all out in the cold to face angry customers and perhaps forced refunds if this functionality is completely discontinued.
1) Let the ActiveX control continue to pull the imagery feeds for developers (with Bing Maps paid accounts)
2) Don't spend any more resource making 3D models etc.
3) Open source the 3D activeX control (people pay subscriptions for the imagery feeds, not the control itself).
We're not asking for much, please consider your loyal developer community and the repercussions your decisions have on them. We support and use Microsoft tools precisely because we assume things like this cannot happen. If we stop trusting the continued support of libraries you introduce it will become exponentially more difficult for Microsoft to get developers behind new technologies.
I understand it's a burden to support everything and MSFT generally does a very good job but recently I have become distressed with this decision and Silverlight (new release of version 5 planned, relegating the Window Phone effectively). I can tell you that these experiences are making it very difficult for us to invest heavily in your cloud computing architecture until we see years of continued support. Not long ago we would not have had this concern.
Sorry for the long message.
I'm Josh Blake, the guy behind InfoStrat.VE. I really appreciate the support for the project in these comments. I've posted a general update on my blog about how this announcement affects InfoStrat.VE and mapping on Surface in general.
It's unfortunate that this will be happening but we should of seen this coming since the 3D control never made it out of beta and has never been officially supported. My company also has several apps that use the 3D control, mainly surface apps. The only real issue will be the loss of elevation and model data. The apps should still function without this but the models were part of the fun. I guess it's time to start looking at looking into see what other Bing mapping controls we can get to work on the surface.
It is in the AJAX SDK (I know because that's how I learned about it) as officially supported in the API and the control itself is version 4.0. I didn't see at any point where it said it was beta or not officially supported.
I don't mean to contradict you so please don't take it that way, I just really don't believe it was presented that way (as beta and unsupported).
I wasn't neccesarily suprised that they would discontinue the 3D control. But I am shocked that it was discontinued without a replacement to move to (silverlight 3D etc...)
I, too, am concerned about the discontinuation of 3D control. I think this is just another capitulation to Bing's competitors, e.g. Google. If Bing wants to improve its acceptance and use in the community at large, it needs to do more than just meet its competitors on equal terms, but to do better than them. But Bing seems to be going in the opposite direction, taking away functionality; all this just makes its competitor's products all the more compelling, and makes it more likely that people will go to those products and leave Bing behind. And Bing is _already_ wayyyy behind.
Secondly, Bing must become less U.S. centric. Most of Bing's features seem to come to the U.S. first, then slowly, if at all, to other Bing sites and countries. Contrast this to Google, which also starts with its U.S. sites first, but then rolls out successful features the world over. No wonder the world loves Google and continues to use Google multiple times over than Bing. Google has offices in all the major cities of the world; does Bing/Microsoft have this?
When will the world tour site be updated to show new imagry added used to be monthly?"
@Wild Typhoon, They're saving up several months worth of imagery update announcments for the upcoming announcement of the Fall 2010 Bing Maps update when they'll announce whatever new features they're introducing beyond the Enhanced Birds' Eye View for Bing Maps AJAX.
I suppose that it makes a more impressive announcement if you've saved up half a year's updates and announce them all at once rather than only announcing the amount of imagery that was added in November or December when you make your press release about your new features that all the news sites will write up articles about.
Don't worry. You'll see a bunch of updates hit before the end of the year quite possibly through the first few months of 2011 as well.
Very informative blog. I’ve found this blog via Yahoo and I’m really glad about the information you provide in your posts.
I am really disappointed about the discontinuation of the 3D control. We have developed an application based on it that displays Bing Maps on a 5m+ tiled display in stereo, which provides a really awesome experience when flying through the skyscrapers in New York or over the Alps. Having originally it implemented based on some wild Google Earth hack, we moved to Bing, because it provides the unique possibility of programmatic access. For us, any image-based approach like bird's eye view is no solution, because we require real 3D data for implementing stereo.
Therefore, I am really interested in the questions posed by jamboharris. Most importantly, will the current 3D plugin be able to draw data from Bing or will this service be shut down completely?
Let me just add that I think Microsoft's decision is particularly unfortunate as Google added a 3D browser plugin and a Bing-like, interactive streetside view based on Flash in the recent past. For some time, Bing had a real advantage in this field - but it did not make anything out of it. I really do not understand why Microsoft puts a lot of effort in developing cool new technologies and then leaves the field to their competitor.
Hi. Apologies for delayed responses. I'm going to answer what I can and reach out to the team for additional information.
@jamboharris - You're correct in how you've understood the change. Bing Maps' 3D Maps on our consumer site will be removed soon but Bing Maps customers will continue to have access until Dec 2011. As of there, there is no defined roadmap for 3D maps. I'm going to share a lot of these comments and concerns with the broader team but as of now the options are limited.
@ygutfreund - Thanks for the support. Bird's eye is a unique value to our users and we will continue to support, and promote, it . We will also continue to support Silverlight. As for injecting Silverlight objects into Bird's eye, I don't have any info for you there.
@sharpgis and Others - The most I can do is toss around the idea of opensourcing the 3d control, but there are no plans as of now to do that.
@USAG - I totally understand the frustration and concern. Just to make sure I don't speak incorrectly, please let me confirm how access to the 3d control for developers will work.
@Girlygirl - You're definitely right that Bing needs to have a strong international offering in order to gain international presence. I can't speak on behalf of Bing, but I will say that before Bing can invest a significant portion of resources internationally it needs to have a good foothold in the US where the concentration of traffic is.
This is a sad state of affairs. I was once a 'Microsoft Evangelist', worked for a Solution Provider, and formed a regional Exchange Server User Group. I really believed in Microsoft's vision. Now I'm heart-broken. No longer a technologist, I'm merely a user. This discussion about API and various technologies does nothing to alleviate my concerns that Microsoft is no longer user-friendly. My faith in Microsoft products has been seriously damaged by the recent demise of the Digital Image Prof suite, Microsoft Money, problems with IE that have forced me to switch to Mozilla, and now this. I even had to buy a Google Droid phone at Verizon this year, because Verizon does not carry the Windows phone anymore; this is the first time in nearly 15 years that I've been without a Windows PDA. What has happened?
This has to be quite possibly one of the dumbest decisions I've seen from Microsoft after the multiple name changes of their services (from MSN to Windows Live to now Bing). This will not only cause a degrade in quality of mapping for novel cartographers such as myself, but those whom use these professionally.
I professionally work in the field of cartography and urban design as a community planner, and actually found Virtual Earth/Bing Maps 3D as a great program compared to the subpar Google Maps 3D. Google Maps 3D when compared to the now former Bing Maps 3D was crap at best. Mainly due to the fact that Google has yet invest in 3D mapping of mid-sized cities and the outer portions of major metropolitan areas such as the ActiveX 3D software of Bing Maps. It was useful and made Google's 3D mapping look inferior to be honest. This move now has proven to me that Microsoft doesn't know what the hell they are doing these days and basically follows the trend rather than set it these days.
I just attempted to use the new "enhanced" Bird's Eye features of Bing Maps and it sucks. No offense Brian, but your employer's decision to eliminate Bing Maps 3D software with this pseudo 3D imaging is feeble at best. The line-of-sight features of elevation and skyline was superb. I was under the impression that like Google, Microsoft was going to combine the Bing Maps 3D features with the recently created Silverlight streetscape imagery. Instead, we have gotten a poorly executed "progression" which resulted in the elimination of 3D mapping and only the partial implementation of streetscape imagery with a directional 2D satellite images as a substitute.
I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Google Maps winds up overtaking Microsoft/Bing in the online mapping services for consumers. You guys have a lost a dedicated user of the Bing Maps with this poor decision of eliminating 3D mapping. Microsoft Silverlight's next upgrade should have an adequate 3D mapping feature exactly like Bing Maps 3D or even surpasses it in quality. Otherwise, I'm through with dealing with Microsoft and Bing for anything.
I've never seen a corporation that had innovation sink into mediocrity as quickly as Microsoft.
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