Update @ 3:30pm (11/2): Because there’s been confusion on this announcement, we want to make clear that this announcement was around the end of life of the 3D Map control. 3D Maps is not based on Silverlight and this announcement has nothing to do with our commitment to Silverlight. We continue to invest in Silverlight functionality, which delivers the richest possible experience for our users – specifically through our map apps that run in the browser on the PC and the Silverlight map control for Windows Phone 7 applications.
Update @ 8:45am (11/3): Added more detail on the difference between the previous Bird’s eye that previously existed in the AJAX map control and the enhanced Bird’s eye which will be made available for both our AJAX and Silverlight map experiences.
We reached out to customers to ask them what they wanted from the Bing maps imagery team and the answer was clear â€“ more Bird’s eye, "everywhere".
Today we announce progress on that front with the forthcoming release of a new "Bird’s eye" â€“ the same 45-degree perspective, viewable from all 4 compass directions imagery that you love, enhanced to include seamless, smooth zooming/panning, life-like building models in urban centers and 3D-like terrain features.
The enhanced Bird’s eye previewed in our Silverlight client last year, but what makes this message special is that, very soon, it will be made available without plug-ins and at scale in through our AJAX map control (Bing.com/maps) but will still be available in our Silverlight experience (Bing.com/maps/explore). The image below is what you’ll currently see in Bird’s eye view in our Silverlight experience and what we’re bringing to the Bing.com/maps experience. The second image is an example of the current Bird’s eye view in the AJAX map control (notice that this enhanced Bird’s eye allows you to view Bird’s eye at a higher altitude and has synthetic building models).
Regular Bird’s eye currently in AJAX
The upcoming release will be just the beginning. You can expect the experience to continue to evolve and get better as we strive to make Bird’s eye available everywhere.
With the new capabilities available in Bing.com/maps, the growth in Silverlight use, and the future with HTML5, we have also heard that customers want the best experience for the most people, without custom plugins for individual features. We have designed the new enhanced Bird’s eye with this in mind, so that the enhanced experience is accessible by users across technologies and platforms including desktop and mobile.
As a consequence, we are also announcing that we will be discontinuing investment in the Bing Maps 3D control Active-X plug-in. We don’t normally pre-announce new features or big changes; but, we want to make sure current 3D Maps users receive a heads-up rather than spring it unannounced. When the next update to Bing.com/maps is launched in the upcoming weeks, the option to view 3D Maps will be removed. Current users of 3D Maps can expect the following:
1. Permalinks and the desktop shortcut to 3D Maps will be redirected to Bing Maps with the nearest match to the experience they had in 3D. In most cases this will result only in a loss of the ability to navigate in full 3D.
2. After opening collections with 3D models, the 3D models will be represented as pushpins only. The models will not be accessible from collections.
3. Permalinks to tours will now open the collection manager with a message indicating discontinued support of the feature. Unfortunately there will no longer be an option to view the tour.
Bing Maps Product Manager