Thursday, July 26, 2007

Microsoft Virtual Earth to support KML

I'm at the GeoWeb conference in Vancouver which has been good so far - I will be posting more when I get time, but it's been hectic so far. However, I just thought I would do a quick post to say that in the Microsoft "vendor spotlight" presentation which just finished, the speaker said that Virtual Earth will support the ability to display KML in a September / October release this year. Maybe I missed something, but I hadn't seen this news elsewhere. I just did a quick Google and this post at Digital Earth Blog says that at Where 2.0 in June they wouldn't comment on support for KML, and I didn't find any other confirmation online of the statement that was made here today, which makes me wonder whether this comment was "officially blessed". Has anyone else heard this from other sources?

This would make a huge amount of sense of course, given the amount of data which is being made available in KML, but nevertheless Microsoft does have something of a track record of trying to impose their own standards :), and they have been reluctant to commit to KML up to this point, so I think this is a very welcome announcement (assuming it's correct), which can only cement KML's position as a de facto standard (I don't think Microsoft could have stopped KML's momentum, but if they had released a competing format it would have been an unfortunate distraction).


Anonymous said...


Great news indeed--and perhaps a small victory for industry standards. We're finding more substantial interest in the workplace for Virtual Earth apps vs. Google Earth, so our own self interest is well served.

In the larger scheme, this is probably a cagey play in the database wars when MS adds Spatial to SQL Server and can claim "interoperability" with GMaps, GEarth, and VE in one fell swoop. Maybe they'll even follow PostGIS' lead and have an "asKML()" function...

Dare to dream,

Brian Timoney

p.s. On the other hand, if VE simply supports KML in the manner AGX "supports" KML, then my excitement meter will go back to zero.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

I agree this is a pretty big item! If it comes to pass, I believe it would be the first concrete indication that KML will escape the Google orbit. For the time being all KML routes lead to a Google franchise.

GeoRSS has been the cross platform approach of choice for the last few months, but KML offers some significant advantages. With MS adoption Yahoo would have to follow suite.

Hey we might even get past .shp after all these years!

Unknown said...

Unless they integrate the same methodology of being able to search KML files, like Google is doing -- I believe this will turn-out much as Randy George describes it.

I'm just wondering why the change of heart from Ballmer, considering he's publicly noted as claiming he enforces use of any Google products within Microsoft, and even with his own kids.

Peter Batty said...

One thing I didn't mention in the original post is the fact that Google is now working with OGC to have KML adopted as a formal standard, so that may have had some influence. And just the fact that KML has so much momentum already and there are so many KML datasets being made available means that Virtual Earth users are seriously handicapped by not being able to use KML data.

Unknown said...

I agree that the OGC standardization has had some influence, but everything VE does generally comes-off as a reactionary strategy in competition. A typical MS move, if I might be so bold to say.

I mean, I'm not entirely knocking it. I'm just being less diplomatic these days and calling a spade a spade.

Graham Bedwell said...
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Anonymous said...
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