Microsoft releases final updates to Live Search services

Microsoft has announced the final updates to the new release of its Live Search service, introducing new services and features to its local and mobile search offerings.

Microsoft says the new features and enhancements are designed to make it easier for people to find what they need at home or on the go through significant innovations in mapping, imagery and driving directions as well as new services to make the mobile search experience easy and powerful.

The new Live Search claims to offer more accurate and easy-to-use driving directions, including dynamic rerouting of directions based on real-time traffic information, one-click directions that allow drivers to get only essential directions to their destination with no starting point needed, and inline hints that tell drivers if they have gone too far based on local landmarks.

200 complete cities are now available in 3D, and customers can now combine views of 3D imagery with Live Search's 45-degree bird's-eye images, giving a complete and detailed geolocation experience. In addition, people who use Live Search Maps can create and share their own 3D models of buildings through an alliance with Dassault Systemes.

The new local search capabilities in Live Search include what Microsoft describes as a broad set of expert sources as well as access to user-generated content from Live Search and from across the entire Web, through searchable user-created collections and Keyhole Markup Language (KML) support.

The Virtual Earth platform has received an update. Updates in version 6.0 of Virtual Earth include multipoint trip routing; enhanced geocoding that combines results for multiple geocoders; rooftop geocoding, which provides more precise geocoding results; map control support for Safari 2.0; and the release of MapCruncher beta, that apparently makes it easier to publish maps overlaid in an application using the Virtual Earth map control.

In addition, there's now a Live Search GamesBox, this new Hub from Windows Live launches on Live Search, and will feature old classics like Celebrity Mash-Up and new games like the next generation crossword puzzler Flexicon.

And, on the mobile front, the updated Live Search for Windows Mobile 5.0 and 6.0 now includes voice input
(in beta) and hours of operation for businesses. The service can also utilise Global Positioning System (GPS) data on GPS-enabled phones to provide location-aware local search for customers.


>