Today the Virtual Earth Team announced they successfully published their biggest update to the Virtual Earth platform yet – running at 26 terabytes! That is quite a bit of data to publish to the web. This update brings expanded aerial imagery and textured 3D buildings/cityscapes to new cities (full list on the Virtual Earth Team’s blog).
It also brings a new feature to Virtual Earth which also powers Live Search Maps: “hill shades”. The hill shading feature allows the user viewing a road-style map to convey elevation on the maps.
The above screenshot is of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State on Live Search Maps. You can see the shading effects allow you to get an idea of elevation. Hill shading is the term the Virtual Earth Team is using but I’m not entirely sure if that is the official name for this feature.
I’ve relied heavily on Live Search Maps most of this year during my travels and also when I drive up to Redmond from Portland. I continue to use Live Search Maps for most of my mapping needs.