Tuesday, November 7, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Microsoft's online maps offer 3-D tours of cities

Microsoft has upgraded its online mapping service to include three-dimensional tours of Seattle and 14 other U.S. cities, marking another step in its dogged pursuit of Internet search leader Google.

With the improvements unveiled Monday, Microsoft is hoping to upstage Google's popular "Earth" software.

Microsoft is touting its 3-D version of "Virtual Earth" as a more compelling alternative that provides "photorealistic" images of the 15 targeted cities: San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

Additional cities are expected to be added in coming months.


Company has eye on VoIP market

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer on Monday touted the company's plans to target the market for server software allowing voice conversations and video conferencing over Internet networks.

"We are going to enter the voice over IP market [in] the beginning of next year," Ballmer said at a Microsoft conference in Tokyo. Voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, involves technologies allowing computer users to make telephone calls with their Internet connections.

While Microsoft has previously released various software with VoIP functionality, Ballmer said it would now be incorporated across the company's operating system, desktop applications and server software.


Seattle market gets faster data speeds

Sprint said it plans to announce today that it has upgraded its wireless network in Seattle to support faster data speeds. The new network, called EV-DO Revision A, will mostly increase upload speeds to support new applications such as videoconferencing.

Average upload speeds will increase to an average of about 400 kilobits per second (kbps), compared with about 70 kbps on the previous network. Average download speeds will increase to about 800 kbps compared with about 700 kbps.

Seattle is among the first 21 markets where Sprint will roll out the network this year, with a rollout to all its markets expected by September. For now, the data service is being offered only for computers, with high-speed cellphones coming later.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Dow Jones Newswires and Seattle Times staff

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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