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Microsoft has launched a beta version of Virtual Earth. Virtual Earth, a bit like the "World Series" is currently limited to North America.

The software looks broadly similiar to Google's version of our planet. Users can switch between maps or photos. One big difference is MSN's version includes software which can tell you where you are - let's be honest we've all had mornings where that would be useful.

Virtual Earth uses Wi-Fi networks to work out your position. A software download will check the nearest three networks and work out your position by triangulating against them. Networks in the US have already been sniffed out and Microsoft is now doing the same for the UK and elsewhere.

Good location information is seen as crucial as internet access becomes increasingly mobile and people search for goods and services available locally.

At the moment pictures are only viewable from directly above. Microsoft says it will have a moveable view, like Google's, in the next release later this year.

Have a play with it here.®

Read the press release here

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