Nice try Microsoft.
The only thing they “copied” was the dragability.
Um, they copied a lot more than that. They copied resizing the map window to fill up the browser window.They copied the general color scheme. They copied the ability to switch between street maps and aerial photos. They copied DHTML layering to show point data on top of the maps. They copied the entire design for searching, navigating, and finding points-of-interest. And they copied it so closely, they made it cross-browser functional (you can damn well bet if Google Maps didn’t exist as a cross-browser functional product, MSN VE would only work on IE).
And they copied the most innovative part of Google maps – tile-based pre-built raster images to assemble dynamic maps. As someone who has developed GIS applications, I can tell you, while this may sound trivial, it is not. Google thought outside the box. The GIS community for years has used vector data to produce one raster image on-the-fly at runtime (like Mapquest). Instead, Google creates small tiled images at every zoom-level they offer and stores them on the server, and thus can produce a map at any location and any zoom-level, and offer it with “dragability”. This is a completely new paradigm for interactive GIS apps. The old way does offer some advantages over the new way, but for web-based interactive GIS, the new way is pretty phenominal.
While the rest of the GIS community was happily working to make incremental improvements to the old paradigm, Google innovated a new paradigm. MSN just copied it. There’s nothing wrong with copying (well, until the USPTO grants software patents), but don’t mistake it for anything other than what it is.
Is it just me or does it seem like all MS is doing these days is just copy catting google? Google made a better search, MS tries to make a better search. Google makes a map, MS makes a map.
I think it’s rather obvious that the creative type who comes up with the ideas usually prevails over those trying to play catch up. When MS makes something new and Google has to copy it, that’s when you know the tables have turned.
Microsoft doesn’t create markets, it attempts to take over young markets through agressive (and sometimes illegal) marketing. It aims to achieve a monopoly, which it can then use to lock its customers in, creating a long-lasting cash-cow.
This is the technique used for Microsoft Windows, Word and Internet Explorer. It isn’t always successful, but it is successful often enough to make a lot of money and annoy a lot of people.
I feel that competition is good when it breeds the creation of new, more innovative, and better products. Yahoo, I feel, is doing a good job at innovating, though they did copy Google’s simple search layout… Microsoft is just see what products consumers like and then stealing those ideas and attempting to release them as a new, great thing from the creative minds at Microsoft. You have to wonder how many truly creative minds are left at Microsoft when everyone is leaving to work for Apple, Google, or Yahoo.