New Windows Live Local Release

Last week, Matt Booth and I were briefed on the third release of Windows Live Local, which has some impressive new features that have gone live (obvious pun not intended) today.

As we pointed out in an Advisory in March ("Maps: Where Are We Now, Where Are We Going?"), WLL has the most robust feature set of all the major mapping engines. The previous version, however, had some deficiencies and general bugginess (as is expected in a beta product). Most of those issues are gone and there are new features such as real-time traffic data gained from a partnership with Traffic.com.

There are also useful plug-ins with MSN Messenger and Outlook that allow users to communicate map data as they relate to scheduled calendar events or social discourse. A new feature known as collections builds upon the scratch pad feature of the previous version and allows users to tag and share information about map locations or local businesses with friends or the Internet at large (an interesting social media layer, which is a growing trend in search as we keep saying). Lastly, the mapping engine has been made available in Canada and the U.K.

We’ll explore these features, their monetization opportunities, and comments of WLL evangelists in this week’s Local Media Journal. Until then, the new site is live; check it out and let us know what you think.

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