Microsoft offers 3D maps for New York, other cities

Microsoft Corp. has enhanced its Windows Live Search Maps with a 3D map of New York, one in an ongoing series of cities in U.S., U.K. and Canada that are being featured in 3D through the service.

Throughout the day Tuesday, Microsoft also plans to release 3D cityscapes of U.S. cities Austin, Texas; Cape Coral, Florida; Cincinnati; Indianapolis; Savannah, Georgia; and Tampa, Florida. Northampton, England, and Ottawa, Canada, also will be featured as 3D cityscapes through the service.

The free online map of New York provides a photo-realistic view of New York, including landmarks such as Times Square, Central Park, Wall Street and Rockefeller Plaza. As with other locations mapped through Windows Live Search Maps, users can get Yellow Pages listing; locations of businesses and other landmarks, as well as contact information; driving directions; and reviews for New York businesses, restaurants and the like.

In addition, users can get real-time traffic incident information integrated with driving directions in the city, and share and access custom maps and lists of notable places in New York that other users have created. Users also can create their own lists of favorite maps and locations in New York.

Users can access the new 3D maps on the Live Search Maps Web site.

Windows Live Search Maps is one of the new Web-based services Microsoft has been rolling out over the past year and a half to drive its online advertising business, a segment it is hoping will become a significant source of revenue for the company. Links to businesses or locations found through Windows Live Search Maps include paid-search advertising links, one area where Microsoft is hoping to gain round on Google Inc. Separately, Google announced on Tuesday that it had enhanced Google Maps.

In the meantime, the company recently said it would purchase digital marketing services company aQuantive Inc. to boost its advertising strategy. The purchase will differentiate Microsoft from Google by the acquisition of Avenue A/Razorfish, a full-service design and advertising agency owned by aQuantive.

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