Google Earth vs. MSN Virtual Earth

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Difference between Google Earth and MSN Virtual Earth

Finding your way around the globe is easier than ever now, thanks to innovative services such as MSN Virtual Earth and Google Earth. While both mapping software will generally get you where you want to go with a minimum of hassle, they do have their respective strengths and weaknesses, and this comparison article aims to cover the more important ones.

Google Earth
MSN Virtual Earth

In Brief

Virtual Earth is Microsoft's answer to the slew of mapping tools that are currently all the rage in the online world. Virtual Earth is intended primarily as a search tool that offers views of certain areas from the street level. With a combination of 2D satellite imaging and 3D aerial survey data, Virtual Earth provides highly accurate views of buildings and neighborhoods from straight down or at a 45° angle. The program allows the overlaying of 2D and 3D images, and users are even given the option to add local data layers that focus on local businesses. Google Earth for its part is a virtual map service that provides a wealth of geographic information. The program was developed by Keyhole Inc, although the company was later bought by Google. Google Maps offers maps of the Earth derived from superimposed satellite images and aerial photographs, as well as other sources. In addition to map creation, Google Maps is also used for locating buildings.


MSN Virtual Earth is also available as "Bing Maps" in Windows Live. In terms of image resolution, Virtual Earth is clearly superior to Google Earth, offering three times closer views than its competitor. In addition, Virtual Earth features semi transparent layers that offer better images than Google Earth. The service also includes a blogging feature that aims to meet Google Earth’s own blogging feature head-on. Google Earth is available for personal computers of course, although it is the iPhone version that is likely to be more useful. The program comes in free or paid versions, with the paid version offering a slightly broader feature set for use by professionals. One of Google Earth’s weaknesses is its difficulty in locating buildings on certain streets. That being said, it has quite a sophisticated interface. Google Earth also offers far better support than Virtual Earth does. In addition, Google Earth will have to be downloaded into your computer or handheld device before you can access the maps. Virtual Earth for its part runs right on your browser.

Market Impact

Most industry observes agree that Virtual Earth is simply building on what Google Earth has already accomplished. This is a common and now recognizable approach for Microsoft, and the company is expected to catch up to Google Earth very soon.


Google Earth

  • Has been around a lot longer than Virtual Earth
  • Excellent customer service health supplements to be downloaded onto the computer in order to use

MSN Virtual Earth

  • Builds on (some would say, copies) technology already used by Google Maps
  • Is expected to catch up to the competition soon
  • Also offered as "Bing Maps" in Windows Live

Which mapping system offers better details?
  • Google Earth
  • MSN Virtual Earth

comments 1 Comments

  • raphael . 3+ yrs. ago

you mixed up VE vs GE. just compare your summary with your content on image clarity

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