Without wishing to compare Microsoft's Bing Sky to Google Sky, and its Bing Maps with photos and live video to Street View, they do sound pretty bandwagon-jumping-like, especially with Google Maps today adding some new Labs features.
Microsoft's said to "stay tuned" for release details, but has demoed the live video, which could prove really valuable when going on holiday for example - you can check places out before you bother going. The Streetside Photos feature isn't exactly revolutionary now that every man and his dog has used Street View, but by using people's uploaded Flickr photos (geotagged, naturally) they'll be in a higher-res and offer more colour and life than Google's own Street View cars can snap.
The new features were shown off at the TED conference, and then later blogged on Bing's site:
"This tech preview mines geo-tagged photos from Flickr, and relates them to our Streetside imagery to show images matched to its original spatial context. Why is this cool? You're now able to see what that club looks like at night (is it really THAT scary?), see if you're really going to get a good sunset at that B&B you're looking to book, or check out the crowds on a Saturday morning at Pike Place Market in Seattle or get a view of the same market from decades prior. As more people share imagery, our challenge is to reunite those photos with where they were taken – again, provide context to the data in the ether."
Bing Sky meanwhile has been created using WolrdWide Telescope from the Microsoft Research division, and will let you:
"be able to walk outside in Streetside mode, look up, and see what's above – way above – right now where you're standing. Constellations come to life as you pan – you can even set the time of day so you can see what you'll see at 9pm – great for exploring with your daughter to get her ready for what she'll see when the sun goes down."
It does seem like unfortunate timing for them, when Google's put its Maps service into the Labs box, adding some new early features like the ability to see high-res aerial pictures of select locations; rotate a map the way you want it to appear, and a 'where in the world' game for quizzing yourself on countries (amongst others).
I still think Microsoft's got a hard game to play if it wants to properly catch up to Google, and while live video is impressive, there's just too many people out there doing Google Maps mash-ups and developing outside of the Microsoft box. [Bing via Search Engine Land via Blogoscoped]