I was talking with a friend of mine last night and the topic of Google vs. Microsoft came up. Essentially his stance was that Google is “winning” and it's too late for Microsoft to gain momentum to dethrone them in many areas. I, of course, had the opposite stance. So why do I have such a stance? Well, rather than explain that Microsoft, once they set their mind to something as a whole, has the money and resources to accomplish whatever target they have set. Rather than state that they have some of the most enthusiastic (meaning they really love their job) people working there; thus willing to do whatever it takes to get to said target. Why don't I just give a real world working... today... example...
This is a pretty cool web-based application that arguably has brought AJAX into the forefront of todays geek speak. It is very cool and I have to give it to Google for introducing such innovation in the stagnant “driving directions” space. You can view maps in regular, satellite and hybrid modes. It does a pretty good job of searching for “stuff” on the maps as well. For example, “Hooters, Fort Worth, TX”.
When you browse to this “application” for the first time, you'll obviously think... “hmmm, looks a lot like Google Local”. That is about where the similarity ends though. At the top, you have two search fields. One for address and the other for “stuff”. Try typing in your own address in the second field. You'll notice that the map looks less cartoon'y (ala the Google one) and more like a real map. Want to see the satellite view? Click on aerial on the zoom box. This view is the equivalent of the Hybrid mode that Google has (but a lot better in my opinion). Now type in “Hooters” in the What field. If it doesn't find one, it will probably let you know you should try zooming out. That zooming out is a link. Select it and it will zoom out to the nearest Hooters. Continue to zoom out (using the scroll wheel on the mouse... something the Google one doesn't utilize) and the search will continue to run for the active viewing pane to add additional found “stuff”. You can also add additional “whats” and it will populate push pins for you. Speaking of push pins, you can right click anywhere on the map and add them, give them a name and description. These pins are added (along with address searches) to the scratch pad. You can email (or blog to “spaces”) the scratch pad to your friends. Now for the coolest thing (as if the rest wasn't cool enough), select a starting address from the scratch pad, right click on it and select driving from. Select another address and select driving too. You'll have a new toolbar window pop up with directions. In there is a turn by turn breakdown of the trip and it's also drawn on the full map. Select one of the turns. The map zooms to that point so you can see it on the aerial view. Oh yeah, almost forgot, notice how the toolbar windows are semi-transparent. Doh... and another... notice that the arial view doesn't have Google copyright goo stamped everywhere.
So I leave it to you, which one are you going to use?