While Google Earth remains the undisputed navigational heavyweight master of global mapping, Microsoft have weighed in with a reasonable effort.
Bing Maps (previously known as Microsoft Virtual Earth) combines local search with maps and aerial photography. Microsoft have included satellite imagery with maps in its local search results for quite some time but with Bing Maps, the display is focused primarily around maps and aerial views. You can zoom in and out of maps or images, and drag the images around within the display at leisure and the basic search interface is similar to MSN's local search with "what" and "where" forms to specify what you're searching for. In addition, text results for searches are displayed in floating popup windows on the left side of the display.
Aerial photographs are overlaid with labels, showing street names, landmarks, and other features, even including directional arrows for one-way streets plus permalinks saves a screenshot of everything open in Virtual Earth, including the map view location and search results.
It may not be in the same class as Google Earth but this is one of Microsoft's better efforts it has to be said.
- Location Finder added to Microsoft Download Centre