Earlier this week, NORAD released a Windows 8 version of its popular Santa tracker app just in time for the holidays. Now it appears that Windows 8 won't be the only contribution to NORAD's annual tradition as Bing is now getting in on the holiday fun.
Search Engine Land reports that Bing is supplying the maps for NORAD's Santa tracker this year. It replaces Google Maps which has powered the tracker since 2007. Microsoft is a big sponsor this year as well with prominent displays for not only Bing Maps, but Windows Azure as well, on the corporate sponsors page.
It doesn't appear that Microsoft moseyed its way in and kicked Google out though. In a statement to Search Engine Land, a NORAD spokesperson said that it and Google "mutually agreed to go in new directions." Microsoft saw a chance and moved in offering Bing Maps, Windows Azure cloud hosting and related services to power the Santa tracker.
That being said, Microsoft isn't wasting its newfound spot at the forefront of one of the most popular holiday traditions in the US. On the official NORAD page for Santa tracker apps, the Windows Phone app is listed ahead of the iOS and Android apps. The Windows 8 app gets its own special area as well.
As for the actual Santa tracking service itself, not much is going to change. The only difference is that Bing Maps lacks the built-in 3D viewing experience that Google Earth offered. For that, you will have to use Cesium, a 3D earth app built on WebGL.
If the lack of Google Maps has you feeling blue, you can always remind yourself of a better time. A time when Google produced a search tips rap with the big man himself: