Virtual Earth is a Web-based, interactive geographical guide that allows users to search and observe maps and aerial photographs of specific areas, neighborhoods, and points of interest on the earth's surface. The program is provided by Microsoft in a partnership with Pictometry International. The service is similar to Google Earth, which was recently introduced by Google , the search engine company.
The Pictometry technology used in Virtual Earth makes it possible to observe a given location from several different angles. Thus, for example, a building can be seen from all sides as well as from directly overhead. As of June 1, 2005, approximately 25 percent of the populated area of the United States had been documented by Pictometry. Virtual Earth is expected to be online in July 2005 and will be accessible from Microsoft's MapPoint service site.