Stephen Lawler: Look! Up in the sky! It's Virtual Earth!

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Microsoft's Stephen Lawler gives a whirlwind tour of Virtual Earth, moving up, down and through its hyperreal cityscapes with dazzlingly fluidity, a remarkable feat that requires staggering amounts of data to bring into focus. Google might still be ahead of the game, but even in beta, Virtual Earth shows incredible promise. Microsoft's visions for the product -- as a provider of real-time weather and traffic data, or a realistic backdrop for game developers and IM conversations, or virtual ad space -- all seem well within the limits of possibility.

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