- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Microsoft wants to wipe Apple Computer off the map. Literally.

Users of Microsoft’s new Virtual Earth Web site looking for a bird’s-eye view of Apple’s corporate headquarters can see only a grainy overhead photograph of what appears to be a single, nondescript warehouse and a deserted parking lot — not Apple’s sprawling campus, with 11 modern, shiny buildings surrounding a plush courtyard.

Microsoft blames an outdated photograph, taken before Apple built the campus.

But Apple’s current headquarters in Silicon Valley shows up for anyone using Google’s mapping Web site, which also combines many of the same government-funded satellite and aerial photographs.

Perhaps the Virtual Earth image is part of Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ fantasy of a world without Apple and rival Steve Jobs?

Microsoft said its new mapping service, made available free during the weekend, was still in the testing phase and includes some older, black-and-white photographs from October 1991 for the neighborhood around Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. The only dates displayed on the images are copyright notices from 2004 and 2005.

“This is about mapping for consumers,” spokesman Adam Sohn said. “We pull the right addresses, it just seems the images are perhaps older.”

Mr. Sohn said Microsoft is buying newer photographs for parts of the country, and many areas already include the most recent images available.

Microsoft and Apple have fought for decades over their operating systems. Although Microsoft controls more than 90 percent of the world’s operating systems, Apple has a fanatic following among its few, but loyal, users.

Mr. Jobs’ new IPod is dominating the digital music industry and starting to help sales of the personal computers.

Mr. Gates, the world’s richest man, is striking back on IPod’s turf.

Microsoft has set up deals with electronic manufacturers to support a version of Windows Media that would allow songs bought from many digital music retailers and Microsoft’s MSN Music to play on portable music players.

Images of Apple’s neighborhood on Google’s mapping site includes color aerial photographs from October 2002, provided by the U.S. Geological Survey.

One satellite specialist said companies should provide more details, such as the date for each photograph, to help Internet users make sense of the images.

“It’s a problem, one of the real challenges. There’s a reason why most pictures in magazines and newspapers have captions,” said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org. “What’s missing from this imagery is, there are no captions to tell you when the image was acquired or what you’re seeing or why you should care.”

Microsoft officials said yesterday that they were working to update their images.

Maybe they were just wishing back to a time when Mr. Jobs was still fooling around in his basement.



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