Google’s World

Sometimes we’re posed the proverbial question of "If you could remake the world in your own image, what would it look like?", but most would probably agree that day-dreaming about a self-created world is futile and a waste of time…

Well someone forgot to tell that to the folks at Microsoft, who quite literally re-imaged the world in their own hands.

Earlier this week Microsoft debuted an MSN service called "Virtual Earth".  This web tool is set to compete with the "Google Maps/World" feature.  For those of you who may not know, for the last few months you’ve had the ability to go into Google, type in your address (or anyone else’s address for that matter) and get a map to your house – like Mapquest.  Where this gets better is that not only will Google pull up a map and directions, but also has satellite images of the area as well – so you can pull up a satellite image of your house, work, school, etc..  It’s kinda spooky because of some of these locations you can zoom to the level of your car!  Anyway…

So M$ wanted to get in on this market as well, so they debuted "Virtual Earth" earlier this week.  Since then they’ve received a lot of press about this service, unfortunately most of it has been bad press.

A story in The Register started it all when in their testing of the product, they found that M$ literally has re-made the world in their own image. To summarize:

If you pull up the address for Apple’s headquarters (as in Apple Computers – makers of the Mac and iPod) opening it in Google gives you this image, a beautiful campus with a fully-paved parking lot, green grass and most importantly buildings!

Pull up the image in MSN Virtual Earth and the same location is shown – WITH APPLE HQ COMPLETELY MISSING!  Instead of the beautiful campus with the green grass, you just see a HUGE DIRT LOT!!

It’s erie – almost like aliens swarmed down from the sky and completely vaporized the whole area so that it’s just a dirt lot – like in those sci-fi movies!  I guess in M$’s image of the world, that’s how they view dealing with the competition – blinking them out of existence! 

In seriousness, the maps that you’re looking at are not directly off a live satellite feed by any means.  Both Google and Microsoft have purchased these images from commercial companies and many of them are many years old.  M$ claims that in the "Apple" case the image is from 1990 before the plant was built, but you still have to wonder if someone working on the project thought it’d be funny to pull a prank like this.

Hmmm, makes me wonder if my house still exists in the M$ world…  Whew! Still there!  How about my work?  Okay – looks fine too!

Be careful what you wish for