If you head over to Microsoft’s Live Search Maps site, you’ll find an option to download and install their new Virtual Earth 3D Beta. I happened to see it demoed on the evening news and decided to try it out.
The 2D satellite images are spectacular: Clear and comprehensive. Microsoft Live’s maps showed clear photos in areas where Google Maps a we don’t have any imagery at this zoom level for this region.
It looks like the 3D mapping feature may be a disappointment for those of us with less than high-end gaming machines (in my case, much less). I used a PC with an AMD Athlon 3200+ CPU, 1GB RAM, and an nVidia GeForce 5200 graphics card with 256MB of dedicated graphics RAM. Admitedly, this is pretty low-end in a world of dual and quad processor PCs and Macs. But, still, I had hoped the nVidia card would help with the processing requirements. If you take a look at the embedded video, you’ll see that I had a less than thrilling 3D experience.
I’m saving my nickels and dimes to buy a Core 2 Duo notebook (I’m waiting for notebooks with the Vista Sidenote LCD screen) in 2007. Hopefully, I can get one with a dedicated graphics card and enough horsepower to take a second look at Virtual Earth 3D again at that time.