Microsoft Virtual Earth A GPS Killer?

from the honey-stop-and-ask-for-directions dept

While it probably wasn’t the exact kind of publicity Microsoft was looking for, its Virtual Earth product was in the news yesterday for “erasing” Apple HQ from its satellite views. That’s blown over, but today, it’s being billed as a “GPS killer”. Apparently one of the minor differences between it and Google Maps is its “Locate Me” feature, where Wi-Fi users (after installing some extra software) can supposedly be located by the MAC address of the access point they’re using. Of course, like all the other Wi-Fi based positioning systems before it, it’s not even close to being a threat to GPS, mostly because of its accuracy, but also because of the inherent fallibility in using things that can easily be moved (wireless APs, in this case) as the basis for a locating system. Accuracy aside, it’s not very comforting to know that Microsoft is driving around the country recording the location of people’s wireless hardware, then making it publicly available. Seems like it would be easy for somebody like the RIAA to make a hack and use the data to track downloaders before sending in their “investigators”, or find some other nefarious purpose.

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