Microsoft Refolds Windows Live Local
The latest release of Windows Live Local integrates traffic flow and incident reporting capabilities with tighter Outlook and Live Messenger integration.
|Sharing MSN Live Local With Your Friends|
Microsoft also expanded the Windows Live Local beta release to the UK and provided a limited version of it to Canada, the company announced.
New sharing features provided in this third release make it easier to provide localized knowledge to others. The Scratchpad feature has been updated to deliver more capabilities beyond its original functions.
Scratchpads can be saved and categorized as Collections of information. When a pushpin is placed on a map to mark a location, the user can title and note the location, include a photo, and attach a URL with more information about the place.
As more pushpins become part of the Scratchpad, users can organize them into Collections. One example could be a Collection of top coffee spots, while another would list the best places for hearing live music or watching football on Sundays.
The Scratchpads can be shared with others, either by email, by Windows Live Messenger, or as a blog entry on MSN Spaces. Local Live users can also add search results to Collections by hovering over them with the mouse and selecting “Add to Collection” from the menu that appears.
Searches in Local Live will return results and sometimes sponsored links from Superpages as well, depending on the query terms. Visitors who follow the search advertising sector would likely expect to see Microsoft adCenter advertisements appearing there, since Microsoft now uses adCenter throughout its online properties.
I know local search has great importance to Microsoft’s designs on the online advertising market. CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed with me via email that the company would make a big push with adCenter by focusing on bringing in a high volume of small business advertisers for local search.
Since adCenter does not formally launch for a few weeks, the Superpages links in Local Live could be subject to change very soon.
A few major metropolitan areas have real-time traffic data available in the US. Color coding of roads shows the average speed of traffic on them, while indicators for minor, moderate, and serious incidents denote where those incidents took place.
Looking at the metropolitan New York area at 6:24 AM shows minor delays at the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels on the New Jersey side (gosh, what a huge surprise there). A marker at 3rd Avenue between 28th and 29th Streets reports a fuel spill is blocking all lanes of traffic there until further notice.
Local Live users have the option to show scheduled construction locations when those projects are taking place on the roads. That can help avoid the unwelcome surprise of a three-lane road suddenly narrowing to one and give drivers the chance to plan an alternate route.
Microsoft also announced it now has a Windows Live Local Add-in for Outlook. This add-in introduces Windows Live Local mapping capabilities to the Outlook Calendar, enabling Outlook users to find and print maps and directions to meeting locations from within Outlook.
It also allows them to better manage their travel schedule by extending meeting times to accommodate travel time and automatically send links with mapping information about meeting locations to other people within Outlook Calendar requests.
Microsoft released a Virtual Earth map control for developers who wish to create applications and mashups using Local Live’s mapping, local search, and imagery. The control is available to developers free of charge, and licensing for commercial service and support can be purchased too.
The company cited key new features in the map control including support for address lookups and driving directions, improved local search functionality, and the ability to easily display standard data sets and Windows Live Local user Collections.
“This release is important, as it represents the first time that people can easily capture their rich local knowledge and share it with all Windows Live Local users and the Internet as a whole,” said Stephen Lawler, general manager of the Virtual Earth business unit at Microsoft.
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.