Microsoft beat out Google to become the digital mapmaker for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA will use Microsoft Virtual Earth maps to analyze and display data on everything from water and air quality to disaster relief, the software-giant announced yesterday. This development may also help MS attract consumers to Virtual Earth, which heavily trails Google Maps at the moment (31.2 million visitors last month vs. 7.32 million).
"We wanted to get our feet wet with the technology, without spending a fortune," Pat Garvey, a technology manager for the EPA, said in an interview. "The Google offering didn't seem to be as sharp, and Microsoft offered us unlimited use for one year." In a statement, Google said it would "continue to work closely" with government and business customers and "respond to feedback and address their needs."