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April 12, 2011

Microsoft launches Streetside mapping service in UK

To be limited to important cities

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft will launch "Streetside", its own version of Google’s mapping service StreetView, on Bing maps in the second week of May in the UK.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company has started collecting 360-degree photos of streets in London.

"Microsoft is hoping the UK images will go live (on Bing Maps) in the second week in May," said the spokesman.

Next month the company will start gathering images form other countries in Europe including Germany, France and Spain.

However, Microsoft seems to be keen to avoid privacy concerns and other controversies that Google had to face. The company says that it does plan to gather wi-fi data, but will wait for a refined strategy.

"We took the decision to postpone wi-fi data collection. We’d like to do it the right way," Microsoft’s director of search Dave Coplin told the BBC.

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Moreover, Streetside will not map every street as Google aims to do.

Coplin said, "We’re not setting out to record every street. We believe it is most valuable in urban centres where people want to find services."

Microsoft also said it had consulted with data protection authorities and privacy bodies about Streetside.

"Privacy is imbued in everything we do," said Coplin.

Microsoft StreetSide was launched in the US in December 2009 and is available for 56 towns and cities there.

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