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New Virtual Earth 3D 4.0 Beta available for download
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Virtual Earth 3D 4.0 is available for download from Microsoft. The latest iteration of the Virtual Earth 3D Control went live on the Microsoft Download Center on April 9, 2009, concomitantly with additional changes introduced by the company to its mapping, location and search platform. In this regard, the software giant also delivered the April 2009 release of the Virtual Earth API (application-programming interface), which brings to the table an evolved AJAX control. While new features are available with the latest release of Virtual Earth 3D, Microsoft has emphasized that the upgrade is, in fact, focused on delivering a consistent performance boost ahead of anything else.

“This release is billed primarily as a perf and bug release because it doesn't add a lot of new features at the end-user level (though I think you will be pleased with the perf improvements), but we did have time to throw in some good stuff for the devs,” Microsoft's Nikolai Faaland revealed, with Chris Pendleton, Virtual Earth tech evangelist, Microsoft, adding that, “The performance benefits include compression of building textures for all 1.4 million buildings in the Virtual Earth 3D control (yes, 1.4 million).”

Among the enhancements that end-users will be bound to notice, in addition to the boost in performance is the introduction of Anisotropic Filtering. Faaland indicated that the appearance of the terrain was improved no matter the angle of view, but that the new feature was off by default in order to tailor Virtual Earth 3D to the largest array of graphics cards. But once switched on, Anisotropic Filtering will deliver a high level of detail and reduce blur.

Pendleton enumerated additional improvements, including: initialized event; Digital Elevation Model data; ILocationListener, Synchronous rendering; Datasource ConnectionParameters; CelestialStyle; Versioning; Pixel-width lines; Constant value datasources; Terrain Scaling; Override OnPaint; Building Culling Value; Turn on/off street level navigation.

Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D 4.0 Beta is available for download here.

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