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  MP2K ASKS MICROSOFT  

Top | Post New Question | Read All | MP2K Asks Microsoft

5/14/02: Directions Magazine published an exclusive interview with Michael Graff, General Manager of Microsoft's MapPoint Group. Read the full transcript on Directions here


6/20/01 MP2K: Does MapPoint 2002 compete "head on" with traditional GIS products, for instance those by ESRI and MapInfo? The fact that you have confirmed that there will be converters for ESRI and MapInfo files points in that direction.

6/20/01 Microsoft: Microsoft has no intention of replacing any GIS vendors. Both ESRI and MapInfo are partners that have worked with Microsoft on a variety of projects for many years. We see MapPoint as a complementary technology, aimed at a broader business audience. Since we launched the first version of MapPoint nearly 2 years ago, we have learned that our vision of mapping technology being used widely in organizations requires many different areas of functionality. From the start, we designed MapPoint to be very "complete" - high-quality maps, valuable demographic data and great compatibility with other standard software products, all in one easy-to-use product. Based on customer feedback, we extended the programmability of MapPoint 2002, so in-house or 3rd party developers can customize and extend the product for specific purposes. And very recently, we decided to offer some "developer samples" demonstrating the power of MapPoint's object model, and how it can be used to bring data from the main GIS products into MapPoint. We believe the enhancements in MapPoint 2002 make the product a great complement to GIS products, allowing GIS professionals to bring their skills, insight and analysis to a much larger audience. We understand that there will be cases where MapPoint competes with GIS products, but in the majority of situations, MapPoint is used in areas that traditional GIS technologies don't touch.


6/19/01 MP2K: It has been reported that you are planning to release a free mif/mid and .shp importer add-in for MapPoint complete with source code. Do you have plans to work on a MapInfo .tab importer or will you leave that to third parties? How about other formats?

6/19/01 Microsoft: You should look at these file import add-ins as
developer samples rather than "real functionality". Their main purpose is to demonstrate the power of our object model. We are doing converters for the binary SHP ESRI file and the MapInfo text format. We will publish full source code, so everyone will be able to see how they work. We hope this will help 3rd parties in writing other converters. We have no plans to do any further converters.

6/19/01 MP2K: What other Microsoft add-ins might we expect in the future?

6/19/01 Microsoft: We have about 4 other developer samples in the final stages of development. We have no current plans to do any more (but that could change). However, as noted above, these are developer samples, not new functionality for MapPoint.

6/19/01 MP2K: Do you have plans for a MapPoint web server or a licensing strategy that would allow people to set one up?

6/19/01 Microsoft: MapPoint is a desktop product, and the licensing arrangements we have with our data vendors do not allow us to offer a server version of MapPoint. However, we are actively working on an online mapping platform the next generation of our Expedia Maps (http://maps.expedia.com) offering.

6/19/01 MP2K: Do you plan a European version of MapPoint 2002? Will that include any additional countries and when do you expect to release that?

6/19/01 Microsoft: The European version of MapPoint 2002 is already out. It includes street-level data for Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.


12/2/98 MP2K: Earlier announcements suggested that Microsoft's channel partners might adapt and extend MapPoint. Will an SDK be available for integrating additional data or additional functionality into MapPoint 2002? Can you speak about the availability of tools and/or programs for such developers?

12/2/98 Microsoft: While we don't have any plans for a SDK, developers will find our basic object model documented in MapPoint's Help file. Microsoft has a number of programs for third-party developers including the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). Over time, you will see MapPoint content make it's way into MSDN, although we don't have any specifics as yet. I think the biggest opportunity in the near term is for vertical solution providers to provide industry-specific datasets to MapPoint customers.

12/2/98 MP2K: There is much interest among members of the mapping "tools" community in developing accessories and add-ins for MapPoint. For instance, add-ins might be developed which make .TAB (MapInfo format) or .SHP (ESRI's shape format) files accessible to MapPoint users. Is Microsoft amenable to these sorts of developments?

12/2/98 Microsoft: We are certainly interested in having third-party developers extend MapPoint. Import and display of custom boundaries or other GIS data from .shp or .tab files is not something we support in MapPoint version 1. Given our architecture, I'd be very surprised if a third-party developer could make this happen via an add-in. That said, the use of GIS data formats in MapPoint is a feature we will evaluate for future versions based on customer feedback.

12/2/98 MP2K: Are you aware of any plans to embed MapPoint inside reporting and marketing systems (such as Crystal Reports)? Is this something that would make sense to you?

12/2/98 Microsoft: MapPoint installs itself as an OLE document object which means it can live in any OLE container application such as Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. I am not aware of any specific plans to embed MapPoint functionality into reporting and marketing systems but I can see how it would be useful to do so.


11/20/98 MP2K: To what degree will MapPoint be customizable?

11/20/98 Microsoft: MapPoint 2000 exposes a basic object model to enable OLE Automation for things like creating new maps, finding places and addresses, printing, panning, and zooming. Developers will be able drive MapPoint from COM aware development environments such as VBA, VB, or VC++. There are not any redistributable ActiveX components so any automation requires MapPoint to be installed on the target machine.

11/20/98 MP2K: Will there be any way to import data from other formats into MapPoint?

11/20/98 Microsoft: MapPoint 2002 will allow users to import or link data from a wide variety of tabular data sources including Access, Excel, Outlook Contacts, delimited text, or OLE DB data sources. Upon import, we look within user data to find a geographic reference that we know about, including street addresses, census tracts, zip codes, MSA's, counties, cities, states, countries, or latitude/longitude pairs. Using that reference, we are able to put customer information on the map. As for other map data, we think the majority of MapPoint customers will have had little or no experience using other GIS applications and therefore we did not invest in the import of other map data formats. However, based on customer feedback, this is something we would consider for future versions.


11/13/98 MP2K: The first version of MapPoint 2000 is not being distributed internationally and international data is on the country level. What are your plans for the geocoding and the demographic data packages for Canada and Mexico?

11/13/98 Microsoft: While the first version of MapPoint is targeted at customers in the United States, we do have plans to take the product to other countries as available data warrants. A United Kingdom version will likely be the first international MapPoint we do with other European countries to follow. With regard to street level maps and demographic data in Canada and Mexico, we continue to work with our data suppliers and hope to extend the U.S. product to include all of North America in future versions.

11/13/98 MP2K: Will MapPoint 2000 be available on Macintosh format?

11/13/98 Microsoft: No. The opportunity to have MapPoint available on the Macintosh platform is one we monitor periodically but do not have any plans at this time.

11/13/98 MP2K: Where is MapPoint in the beta process?

11/13/98 Microsoft: We released our second beta version to over 1,000 test sites in early November and are on target to have the product available in the second quarter of 1999.

11/13/98 MP2K: Have any computer makers contacted Microsoft about making MapPoint 2000 a software bundle option?

11/13/98 Microsoft: Yes, several PC makers have expressed interest in an OEM version of MapPoint and we will make a bundled version available to them.

11/13/98 MP2K: Do you plan to target any specific consumer segments such as education, small business associations, etc?

11/13/98 Microsoft: Microsoft MapPoint is a product with broad appeal whether the user is an independent real-estate agent or a business analyst at a Fortune 500 company. Our intent is to ship a business productivity tool that can be used in a wide range of organizations provided there is some location aspect to the business. That said, I think there exists great opportunity for Microsofts channel partners to adapt and extend MapPoint in specific vertical markets such as education, real-estate, healthcare, insurance, and government agencies.

11/13/98 MP2K: Census 2000 will make most existing demographic data obsolete. Will there be regular online, subscription-based updates for geographic/demographic data as you have for Encarta Encyclopedia?

11/13/98 Microsoft: We dont have any plans for subscription based updates to either the map or the demographic data. Claritas is providing a website and toll free number for MapPoint customers who want more specific data relevant to their particular industry. The maps themselves are based on the latest version of GDTs DynaMap 2000 product and will be updated with each new version of MapPoint.


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