Microsoft is taking the beta tag off its innovative Bing Maps Silverlight site, which we wrote about previously when it initially launched. According to Microsoft users will be transitioned to the new site and prompted to download Silverlight if they don’t already have it:
First off, if you go to the Bing Maps AJAX site and have Silverlight installed chances are you will be redirected to the Bing Maps Silverlight site (note this change only affects users in the US). We’re rolling this out with a small percentage of users increasing up to 100% of all users in a few weeks. If you don’t have Silverlight installed you can hit the AJAX site and will be prompted to install Silverlight (which you can opt out of, but WHY would you??). Well, to make the AJAX site a bit smoother we’ve introduced some new transitions in the tile loading process for panning and zooming. So you can have your Silverlight and AJAX too. If you don’t want to stay on the Silverlight site, you can opt out and return to the AJAX site (aka Bing Maps Classic) via the link on the Silverlight site.
One click gets users to a list and locations for local event in the desired (US) city, in this case Manhattan:
When I tried them this morning destination maps was a little buggy and took longer to generate these stylized maps than intended. But that will get worked out. It’s too the new Bing Maps requires the Silverlight plug-in/download. But once downloaded it definitely offers a rich and differentiated experience.
The apps gallery, which will increasingly open up to third parties (analogous in some ways to AOL’s MapQuest Local), is the most interesting aspect of the Silverlight site and presents intriguing opportunities to further develop and enrich the Bing Maps experience.