Microsoft Windows Live Search vs Google Maps Mobile

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INTRODUCTION

    One of the advantages of having an internet enabled mobile device is the ability to find businesses, addresses, and directions in real time where ever you are (data service and signal required!). With the right application, the Windows Mobile environment provides us with a rich environment to help easily perform these tasks. Microsoft and Google have developed Windows Mobile applications which provide search, mapping and routing functionality for

free

. Read on to see how they compare to each other through five different scenarios; and we’ll come up with a winner at the end!

SETUP

    These application can be downloaded and installed using the Windows Mobile Pocket Internet Explorer. The Microsoft Windows Mobile Live Search application can be downloaded from wls.live.com. The Google Maps application can be downloaded from google.com/gmm. The Windows Mobile Live Search application can be installed on in program memory or on the storage card, while Google Maps application must be installed in program memory.




 

The current Windows Live Search (Windows Live Search) version is 2.5.2840.19676, and the Google Maps version is 1.2.0.18.

PRODUCT COMPARISON

    The two products provides the same basic functionality. In order to compare them I came up with five scenarios which I frequently use. Each scenario will be graded for ease of use and quality of information returned, with the better program receiving one point. If I deem a scenario to be a tie, both programs will get one point.

1. Entering your current location
2.
Search for a business (Carpet Man in Rockville, MD) and email results
3.
Search for the closest Starbucks from my current location (no GPS) and display directions
4.
Search for the nearest gas station from the Starbucks location
5.
Search to see what movies are playing near the gas station
6.
Search for a brewery near the movie theater

Scenario 1: Entering your current location

 

The entry of your current location is always a bit of chore, unless your are using a GPS. Windows Live Search has more entry options to help you narrow your location, while Google Maps expect some form of an address.

 

The location search returns you to the Home screen in Windows Live Search while Google Maps displays a map.

    The Windows Live Search entry method is slightly easier, and the speech recognition gives it the edge even though the display of results on a map by Google Maps provide better feedback to the user.

Score for Scenario 1:

Windows Live Search: +1
Google Maps: +0

Scenario 2: Search for a business (Carpet Man in Rockville, MD) and email results

 

The Windows Live Search home screen allows you to enter the business name, while Google Maps map display forces an additional step by requiring the selection of the Find Nearby Business function on the menu to display the entry screen.

 

The Windows Live Search search returns a list, while Google Maps displays a map. The number of results in Google Maps is displayed at the bottom of the screen. You must zoom out to view all of them.

 

    The Windows Live Search detail screens provides some options directly on the screen while the Google Maps detail screen forces the use of the options menu. Both application provide a link to send a text message but not an email. You must copy the details into an email message. Windows Live Search does make this task easier by providing a copy function on its menu, while the Google Maps display forces you to select the text, tap and hold to display the copy function.

    The entry of a nearby business in Google Maps requires one extra step and common options on the Windows Live Search detail screens give Windows Live Search the edge in this scenario.

Score for Scenario 2:

Windows Live Search: +1
Google Maps: +0

Scenario 3: Search for the closest Starbucks from my current location (no GPS) and display directions

 

    The Windows Live Search application always remembers your location, while Google Maps always searches from the last search location you selected. In this scenario when I searched for Starbucks, Google Maps found the closest location from the last search results which was Carpet Man in Rockville, MD. The Windows Live Search search for the nearest Starbucks returned a list of results close to the initial location I entered, Marymount University.

 

The Google Maps application forced me to re-establish my location before search for the nearest Starbucks.

 

The routing results for Windows Live Search provide the turn by turn directions, while Google Maps provides a summary.

 

    The Windows Live Search displays the turn by turn directions at the bottom of the screen, while Google Maps uses bubbles. The direction directions are basically the same, however it is interesting to note that Windows Live Search and Google Maps use different exits off of the university’s campus. Both application allow you to move forward a turn at time and also support GPS position tracking.

The applications take different approaches but provide similar functionality.

Score for Scenario 3:

Windows Live Search: +1
Google Maps: +1




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Scenario 4: Search for the nearest gas station from the Starbucks location

 

The Search Near Here menu option in Windows Live Search and Find Nearby Business menu option in Google Maps provide similar functionality.

    The two applications require you to establish Starbucks as the current location. Google Maps allows you to tap on the map to establish the location, while Windows Live Search requires you to accept the Map Location.

 

The gas prices function icon is on the Windows Live Search Home screen, while there is no gas pricing option in Google Maps, it is possible to search for gasoline.

 

The Windows Live Search application returns a list sorted by the cheapest price, Google Maps returns the closest gas stations.

 

    The Windows Live Search detail screen provides dated gas prices, while Google Maps only provides address information. I was very dismayed to find that the Google Maps results are inaccurate. This particular 7-Eleven does not sell gasoline and it is not part of AAFES, the Army and Air Force Exchange System. This is not like Google…

The Windows Live Search map display provides a bubble display for the gas pricing. The current location is identified by the green flag. This scenario was no contest for Windows Live Search.

Score for Scenario 4:

Windows Live Search: +1
Google Maps: +0

Scenario 5: Search to see what movies are playing near the gas station

 

    I re-establish my location with both application to initiate my search for movies. The Windows Live Search application provides me with an icon to search for movies. In the Google Maps application, I need to use the generic search Find Nearby Business or Search function.

The Google Maps search functions has a movies item in the search drop down menu.

 

The Windows Live Search application provides al list of results and the Google Maps application returns a map. The Windows Live Search applications displays a movie tab to display what films are currently showing.

 

The two details screen. The Windows Live Search application provide an option to display the movies playing at this theater. The Google Maps application provides the link to a web site which must be cut and pasted into Pocket Internet Explorer.

 

The Windows Live Search application displays the list of movies playing at the selected theater. The Google Maps provided the Fandango URL with a web site which is not designed for a mobile device.

The built in movie search function in Windows Live Search provides better and easier to read results.

Score for Scenario 5:

Windows Live Search: +1
Google Maps: +0

Scenario 6: Search for a restaurant near the movie theater

The Windows Live Search and Google Maps search criteria with "Brewery".

The Windows Live Search and Google Maps results were similar with the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery closest to my current location.

The Windows Live Search and Google Maps detail screens. Windows Live Search provides ratings from live.com, while Google Maps provide the restaurant’s web site.

The search results for this scenarios provided similar useful content.

Score for Scenario 6:

Windows Live Search: +1
Google Maps: +1





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FINAL SCORE

 
Scenario
Windows Live Search Google Maps Mobile
1Entering your current location
+1
0
2Search for a business (Carpet Man in Rockville, MD) and email results
+1
0
3Search for the closest Starbucks from my current location (no GPS) and display directions
+1
+1
4Search for the nearest gas station from the Starbucks location
+1
0
5Search to see what movies are playing near the gas station
+1
0
6Search for a brewery near the movie theater
+1
+1
 

Total

6

2

Scenario

CONCLUSION

    The basic search and routing functionality of Windows Live Search and Google Maps are basically the same. Their approach to entry of search criteria and display of results are very different. Windows Live Search provides more structure with categories and specific search functions like Gas Prices and Movies, while Google Maps mirrors the Google web site free form search functionality and use maps to returns results. Both engines returned similar data, although Windows Live Search provides expanded data like gas pricing, movies showings at specific theaters, and restaurant review ratings from live.com. This additional data made Windows Live Search more useful than Google Maps, with the addition of voice recognition Windows Live Search is the clear winner for my PDA.

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