Microsoft's StreetView rival Streetside hits UK and Europe

Microsoft will soon be launching its own take on Google's ever-popular, but also very controversial, Street View service; called Streetside, Microsoft has already begun snapping in London and should be looking to the continent (Paris and Barcelona) in May.

The new mapping service will sit alongside Microsoft's Bing search engine and allow users to get a streetside view of major towns and cities - avoiding the Google plan of attempting to map every street on Earth.

As London appears to be the only UK city included at the moment most of us need not fear, and we'd assume any future plans for greater coverage in the UK will depend on its success. Microsoft Streetside is already available in the States and so far covers 56 towns and cities.

In light of the privacy debacle experienced by Google, Microsoft is hoping to avoid such bad press; although the company is still very clear that it will be collecting Wi-Fi data to use with its location-based services.

The vehicles collecting the data have been provided by Nokia-owned Navteq and will collecting images around the UK up until June.

Anyone concerned, apparently, need not be as Microsoft states that all faces, car plates and nude shots will be blurred. However, if you really want to ensure that what little privacy still exists within your life stays intact, we would suggest staying indoors for the summer and covering your house with a reputable brand of tarpaulin.

Full details of the Streetside schedule can be found here.