Before you make decisions about anything, it's always best to research the subject so that you can have judgment and know which product is better for you, etc. This goes for purchases as well as free downloads like Google Earth. So we've decided to help you in your research. On this page you will find the other option to Google Earth, with explanations, links, etc. I suppose we're a bit biased since we made an entire website due to our love of Google Earth. But that doesn't mean we can't take a look at what else is out there. And we think you should too. So here's the information we've put together to help you decide which software is best for you. Hope it helps.
Microsoft Virtual Earth
Microsoft has created software which also allows you to view the world on a large or small scale, similar to Google Earth. This is really the only contender, if there even is a contender. In my own research, what I did see is that the imagery is very high quality and quite aesthetic to look at.
The first and only problem I noticed in checking it out myself is that it defaults to a 2D view. When you click on 3D, you get the following message:
"To use this feature, open Live Local Search in Windows Internet Explorer version 6 or 7. For more information, and to download the latest version, visit the Microsoft Internet Explorer website...". This is problematic for anyone who doesn't want to use Microsoft IE, like myself. I use Firefox and I don't want to be forced to use a particular browser in order to use this product. So it's possible that Microsoft's product is just great, but I'm not willing to download a browser I don't want on my computer just to find out. And that's as far as my personal download of Microsoft's version went. I did check out other reviews, however, and I'm linking them below for you. So feel free to check out Virtual Earth for yourself by clicking this link.
Here are links to articles reviewing Google Earth VS Microsoft's Virtual Earth.
GlobeXplorer - This isn't actually competition for either Google Earth or Microsoft, but it's a related company and may be of use to you. GlobeXplorer boasts "the World's Largest Online Library of Aerial / Satellite Imagery and Maps." These images are all available for purchase. So the site isn't free. There are a lot of options they have to incorporate satellite imagery and mapping for printing and projects. You have to call them for a quote. So they do seem to offer a lot, but none of it is free. Just so you know. You can check them out here.