Microsoft has announced that it will stop developing three of its long running commercial map software products, MapPoint, Streets & Trips and AutoRoute, in favor of its Bing Maps service.
Microsoft has posted up a brief history of those older mapping products, which began with a small group of UK-based programmers working on AutoRoute in their spare time to offer computer road mapping help in their native country. Those programmers then formed their own company, NextBase Limited, and released AutoRoute in 1989. The result was a massive hit with Microsoft stating, "In fact, at one time NextBase Limited estimated almost half of the computers in the UK were running a copy."
After expanding AutoRoute to include maps in other countries, Microsoft bought NextBase Limited in 1994. The first version of MapPoint, which lets companies combine business and mapping data, was released in 1999 and was based on NextBase's software. In 2000 Microsoft renamed AutoRoute as Streets & Trips for the US market, while retaining the AutoRoute brand for the European version.
In announcing the retirement of these products, Microsoft stated:
We so appreciate the support of our dedicated users over the years. It was a tough decision to discontinue Microsoft's favorite mapping software products. The retirement of these products will not affect software already installed. Current users may continue to use Microsoft AutoRoute, Microsoft Streets & Trips and Microsoft MapPoint to plan their travel adventures and will have online support until at least July 2015.
Microsoft's Bing Maps is now the major mapping software service for the company. For the past several months, Microsoft has released a version of the Bing Maps app for Windows 8.1 users that offers photo realistic 3D maps of a number of cities, along with other features.
How do you feel about Microsoft retiring these long time mapping software products?