Microsoft: No details on when gaps in Bing Maps Bird's Eye images will be fixed

A few days ago, we reported that there were still some noticeable gaps in the images that Microsoft provides for the Birds Eye viewpoint in the web-based Bing Maps. We found that the massive LA Live complex in Los Angeles and the huge CityCenter buildings in Las Vegas, both of which were completed over three years ago, are still shown as under construction in the Birds Eye view in Bing Maps, while the images in the Aerial View show them as being completed.

We also noted that the Maps app included with all Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs use the old Bird's Eye photos of both locations, rather than the updated photos that Microsoft has for the Aerial View.

We contacted Microsoft to find out when these images, which are clearly several years old, will be updated with the completed structures. We received a response today from Matthew Quinlan, the director of product marketing for Bing.

We refresh our imagery periodically and timing varies on the type of imagery. We updated our aerial imagery of these landmarks as part of our Global Ortho project which was completed in August and captured the contiguous United States and Western Europe over the last two years. There are many factors that affect when specific areas and imagery types, such as Bird’s Eye, get refreshed, and we do not have specific details on timing to share at the moment.

So basically if you live in LA or Las Vegas and are using the Maps app in Windows 8, or the Birds Eye view in the browser-based Bing Maps, be aware of these rather obvious gaps in the images.

Image via Microsoft

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1) The aerial is fairly accurate, having been taken in the past year or two; additionally are cleaner images than Google or other services due to the fly over project Ortho.

2) The roads are accurate even if the construction of buildings is not correct when zoomed in. Which is how 'mapping' is normally used and a bit more important than images being a couple of years older. (Ask iPhone users whether they would like the roads to be accurate or not.)

3) The only reason the Win8 App and other show the older images is at higher zoom levels when bird's eye is available the software flips to that mode. (Microsoft should maybe just disable this so people like John won't have insipid rants over a feature other mapping doesn't even offer.)

The bird's eye images are taken from low level aerial flights at angles over cities. The zoomed out images that are correct are from the recent project that is a higher top down fly over capturing, as can be detailed if you look up the Ortho project.

Microsoft is using 'fewer' satellite images because of the Ortho project, so people asking for updated satellite images is incorrect in two ways, as satellites were NOT used for the bird's eye images when they were captured a few years ago, and Microsoft is NOT using satellite images for even the higher resolution zoomed out images. Again look up project Ortho, as it will explain what they are doing and why the images are cleaner and superior to satellite imaging.

The funny thing about all this crap is Microsoft invented the 'image' mapping technology that all aerial mapping software is derived from when they created large data retrieval demonstrations for SQL server back in the 1990s dealing with TBs of data that was beyond what was though possible on a simplistic cluster of SQL servers running on NT.

Prior to that, all we had was mapping software that was 'road' view.

Chances of a satellite flying overhead on a clear day and being usable for your specific purpose (they are hired out, so might be focussed on another area)? Not very high!

The amount of work to retrieve and gather satellite imagery is high, not to mention post processing!

We're complaining about gaps in coverage for a product that Google Maps doesn't even provide...? They may not be recent, but at least they provide them. This is much much harder to update than satellite imagery.

Google have Street View instead, which is even harder/more time consuming to update and is overall more useful. So MS should atleast be updating Birds Eye view more regularly in order to effectively compete.

At least it's more up-to-date than what I see in Google Maps for my area lol. I see new streets in Bing that I don't even see in Google (which sucks when I'm visiting someone who moved to a new neighbourhood being built). Bing's data is definitely more up-to-date, but as they wrote the imagery can vary depending on the location, which is the same for Google which is very outdated in some areas.