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 MS Streets and Trips, AutoRoute, and MapPoint
 What's new in Microsoft Streets & Trips 2008
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 20 août 2007 :  11:22:13  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Streets 2008

What's new in Streets & Trips 2008



This is not a full review of the program. It only is a review of new features in the 2008 version. A full review was written here a few years ago, as well as reviews of new features of versions 2005, 2006, and 2007.



Perspective Map View - (Other GPS navigation products call this feature simply "3D-view".)  This is a feature which has been on the very top of many users wish list for a long time. And rightfully so. This feature is to allow drivers to view the map "tilted" by a certain degree, so the view of the roads on the screen would resemble what we would see through our windshield. People who are familiar with this feature from having used it in various navigation systems know that the benefit of 3D is the ability to view more detail of our immediate surrounding, yet at the same time being able to view quite far ahead (with less detail). On a regular "2D" map, if you wish to see more detail of your surrounding you would have to zoom in, and if you wish to see more of the road ahead you would have to zoom out.

While I'm glad to see "Perspective Map View" included in the 2008 version, I'm not certain if the current implementation of it is going to lead to many people actually liking it or using it.


Click to enlarge

The GPS location icon is positioned way too high, unnecessarily showing too large portion of the road we have already passed, but not enough of the road ahead.



I was going to use "Dynamic turn view" instead of "Keep position centered", because in "Dynamic turn view" the GPS icon is close to the bottom of the map most of the time (and that's where it should be all of the time), but unfortunately the "Perspective map" is not available when "Dynamic turn view" is enabled.

Because "Use Dynamic Turn View" and "Display as perspective map" cannot be used together, there is not going to be the automatic zooming while using this new feature.



I've also observed that when outside a certain zoom level range, the map will turn to its regular "2D" even when 3D ("Perspective map") has been selected by the user. I would prefer the perspective view stays available at all zoom levels. (3D is especially useful when zoomed all the way  in - which is not available in this 2008 version). The above screenshot depicts zoom sliders at positions  beyond which 3D turns to 2D.

Also I would like to see the map tilted by a much greater degree.

I wish there was a way to turn off the new bar on top which shows heading and current time. It takes up valuable map space. Click here to see it better in larger size.

To summarise, I'm glad Microsoft has moved to implement "3D", but I wish in the future there will be some form of Beta testing done by customers who use the product on a daily bases. Streets & Trips is an excellent product, but it has some unfinished features which make some aspects of it look very amateurish - especially the GPS related features. For a comparison, please view a sample of excellent 3D-view implementation by iNav Corp in its iGuidance navigation software. Click here to view a screenshot.


Automatic re-routing - This is another long-awaited feature. In their own words: "When you miss a turn, Streets & Trips 2008 will automatically update your directions to get you back on track."



While other GPS navigation products recalculate a new route instantly, S&T 2008 recalculates automatically only after you are quite a distance from your originally plotted route. This at first actually caused me to think the feature wasn't enabled. I spent quite some time searching through the program's options to find where to enable it. Well, it didn't require enabling, it just required me to drive a bit further away.

In my estimation I need to be at least 100 meters (or 300 feet) off route before Streets & Trips 2008 calculates a new route. I wish the recalculation was performed instantly as soon as the red Off Route appears on the screen. I'm curious to read feedback from other users after they had a chance to live with this new version for a while.

Unfortunately this new automatic re-routing feature is not optional. It is mandatory. There is no setting to allow users to turn this feature on or off. Some users may not wish to use any form of automatic re-routing, but there is just no way for users to turn this feature off. Streets & Trips has always been marketed as a trip planning product. But now, after some people spend their precious time painstakingly planning their trip through the roads they want to take, or the roads they need to avoid, they may find themselves at the mercy of this new automatic re-routing feature. It's OK for a simple GPS navigation device not to have the option to turn off automatic re-routing, but it is not okay at all not to have such option in a sophisticated #1 best selling trip planning software program like Streets & Trips.

A year ago I added automatic re-routing feature into
S&T Keys, my freeware add-on for Streets & Trips. It at first wasn't an optional feature either, but after some users spoke up against it, I added the option for users to turn off automatic re-routing if they so desire. The following is a user feedback I received at that time:  "...Regarding S&T Keys, is there anyway that you can toggle auto-rerouting on and off, or is there a version that is available without the auto-rerouting feature? I'm an over the road truck driver who uses Streets and Trips every day to do all his routing and navigation, however, the auto-rerouting feature is a feature that I can't afford to leave up to chance since I drive a big rig and the last thing I need to happen is to be arbitrarily rerouted through a residential area or onto a restricted route with a possible low overhead obstruction. Consequently, as it stands now, I'm unable to use the current product because of the auto-rerouting feature..."

Streets & Trips is a "home" product, but judging by discussions on various trucking forums it is used also by many professional truck drivers. Also the European version of MS AutoRoute is popular among truckers. But even if Microsoft doesn't want to modify the program to suit the professionals, why not do it for the owners of RV's. Every RV-related forum I have read has had many Streets & Trips fans. And there are other reasons for which even drivers of smaller vehicles may want to rather not use automatic route recalculation. It's a great feature, but users should have the option to disable it or enable it.


Connected Services

I cannot properly review the new "Connected Services" functionality because the service is unavailable outside the USA at this time. But here is at least a little bit of info I'm able to provide.



The new optional "Connected Services" feature allows users to view traffic conditions right on the map. The red line on the above picture indicates a road segment with slow moving traffic.



Check gas prices.



The above screenshot is of a new "Connected Services" pane in Streets & Trips 2008.



In the MSN Direct Receiver Configuration panel you may notice that I'm receiving FM signal at 100% strength at 107.1 MHz (even in my basement, in Richmond Hill, about 30 km from downtown Toronto). But at the moment no city in Canada is covered by this service in Streets & Trips. To view the most up-to-date coverage area, visit this MSN Direct web page. You may also find screenshots and more info here.





Microsoft Streets & Trips w/Connected Services package includes:

* MSN Direct FM receiver for receiving traffic information and gas prices;

* A special USB adapter cable which also servers as an FM antenna;

* iGPS-500 - a GPS receiver based on SiRFstarIII chipset
 

I'm looking forward to reading feedback on these "Connected Services" posted by actual users very soon. Please do post your positive and negative experiences.


Updated maps

MS AutoRoute 2008 - I do not yet have the European version of this product, but I will try to make a guess about the possible major changes to the map coverage. I'm going to base it on the press releases by Navteq from the 12 months period preceding the release day of the last year's version of AutoRoute 2007 (MS seems to acquire new map data early when they start working on a new version).

I think it is reasonable to expect the following new countries added to AutoRoute 2008:
Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia & Montenegro. In addition to that, Ireland and Poland will now most likely include 100% coverage. And as usually, map data will be aproximatelly12 months newer for every country.

MS Streets & Trips 2008



I see newly built streets in this 2008 version.



I also see street level coverage in small remote areas which were just a dot on the map in earlier versions. The above screenshot is of a small community named Faro in Yukon Territory.

How up-to-date is the map data? In the past years it seemed Microsoft acquired new version map data when they started to work on a new version of the product. The last version of S&T 2007 started to sell in the fall of 2006, so I would expect the map data, whose main supplier is Navteq Corporation, to be version Q3 - 2006. However, in the credits I see (c) 2007 Navteq. Either Microsoft managed to find a way to include newer Navteq data in this product, or the 2007 is there by an error. I lean towards the latter, especially because only about a month or two ago I noticed finally newer map data in the Microsoft's on-line map service http://maps.live.com/ and the credits there went from (c) 2005 Navteq to (c) 2006 Navteq. Nevertheless, the map is, as always, approximately one year newer.
 

Activation

The 2008 version introduces product activation. S&T can be activated on-line, a procedure which takes only a few seconds, or it can be done over the telephone. After installation you don't need to activate the program immediately. The software allows 60 days of usage with out activation. However, some features (for example the new connected services) may not be available before the product is activated.

I successfully activated the product twice - 1st on my mobile PC, and 2nd on my home computer. When I attempted to activate 3rd time, on another laptop, the product activation wizard informed me I exceeded the number of activations allowed. I was offered a phone number in case this was an error.

I don't see a way for users to de-activate the product on one computer, if they wish to install it on another computer. Some programs allow for this to be handled on-line, but I suspect a Streets & Trips 2008 user would have to do it over the phone.


Fixed:



Even when GPS tracking is enabled it is now possible to draw rectangles for the purpose of zooming to a specific area, or for the purpose of setting an area to avoid. This was not possible to do in the 2007 version while GPS tracking was enabled. Thanks for fixing this one!


Fixed:



In previous versions users complained that the landmarks category was impractical to use because it was cluttered with major car dealerships. In the 2008 version I see vast majority of dealerships correctly placed in the Auto Services category. Thanks for fixing this one, too!
 

Fixed:



Some 3rd party applications caused the above error when the 2007 version of Streets & Trips was closed by users. I'm aware of three such applications which caused the above pop-up to appear. They are S&T Keys (my freeware automation tool for Streets & Trips), Full Screen 2000 (an application which can force any program into full screen mode), and Hack-It Pro v4 (a desktop management application that allows control over window behaviour)

In S&T Keys version 2.41 I managed to bring this issue mostly under control, but I'm glad that I will not have to deal with this annoyance in the future. Thanks much for fixing this!


Not fixed:




Ever since the "Create GPS trail" feature was introduced in the 2005 version, it was associated with a know issue. After prolonged use of the feature, the CPU usage of Streets.exe goes up to 70%, 80%, 90%, etc. This hinders the performance of the program. Certain features on the map, for example street names and the GPS icon, will take long time to refresh. To reproduce the problem is quite simple: enable "Create GPS trail", and then drive on a highway for an hour. Watch the performance deteriorate. A known workaround is to either disable the feature for a second, and then enable it again, or save (Ctrl+S). This issue is still present in the 2008 version, as far as I can tell.


Not fixed:



When "Keep position centred" is enabled, the GPS icon should not move at all. It should be pinned to the absolute centre of the map. The map should move, but the icon should stay completely still.

There should be a new option to "Keep position on the bottom". The existing "Dynamic turn view" feature doesn't do a good job of keeping the position on the bottom (when "Rotate map to follow travel direction" is enabled). The GPS position icon may be found literally anywhere on the screen. While the icon may be sitting on the bottom most of the time, it often times starts climbing to the top in the most inappropriate of times - right when one road segment ends and another one starts. Such behaviour is not seen in car navigation systems these days anymore. Because of this "travelling icon issue" drivers cannot just quickly glance at the screen to see where on the map they are. They first may need to take an extra second or two to visually locate the GPS position icon on the map, because often times it may not be where expected.

The whole "Dynamic turn view" feature should be changed so it just acts as an automatic zoom, and the GPS position icon should just be pinned to one place.

Zoom function should be fixed so it zooms not to the centre of the map, but rather to the GPS position when "Arrange map view" is enabled. (When "Arrange map view" is not enabled, then it is OK to zoom into the middle of the map.)


Not fixed:


(+) and (-) 15% may not be enough when you plan a bicycle trip or if most of your daily scheduled stops are in a busy downtown area. Users miss the old speed adjustment method of pre-2005 versions.


Not fixed:



Some lakes and rivers still keep disappearing when we zoom-in closer.

___________________________________________________________
Question?  Comments?


Marvin Hlavac

Ads


bekair

14 Posts

Posted - 20 août 2007 :  17:56:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Marvin - as usual you are very quick to get some raw data on these new products. - JOB WELL DONE.

I personally have not had a lot of problems with past versions - and I have not updated since about 2005 - but I plan to upgrade to 2008,if only to get the newer "dongle" & upgraded receiver.

I like the new "3D" feature - but like you say - the moving icon (and too high on the chart) is just stupid! You'd think a company like Ms. could get it right???

I am not too concerned re the no fix on gps trail, speed & lakes and rivers, but that is just me and I suspect most will welcome these changes.

The other "fixes" are certainly welcomed.

MAN - if they just could have done a better job on the 3d view and cenering the icon it would be real hot software.

I also think a better job could have been done on the "off route" - "recalculate" features - 100 meters is just too far - it should be instantly.

Thanks for your continuing excelent work. (looking forward to your"KEYS" for 2008.

Barry
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LoveToTravel

3 Posts

Posted - 20 août 2007 :  18:09:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Marvin,

I think I will like the auto reroute feature with a bit of a delay - it gives you the opportunity to make a u-turn or take other course correction actions before it reprograms.

I have had a chance to play with S&T 2008 and it seems to have less detailed street level info for Toronto. For example, I used to be able to search and find my exact address on Glencairn Ave in S&T 2007 but in S&T 2008 in no longer finds Glencairn Ave. When I zoom into my street manually and click on it, it no longer gives me the street number. Very disappointing. Are you having the same kind of experience?

Thanks
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NoSmoke

Canada
132 Posts

Posted - 20 août 2007 :  19:31:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Marvin:

Thanks much for the review.

Some questions/comments:

Will I have to connect my portable PC to the internet to activate?

The inability to deavtivate auto-routing seems absurd. I often get "off-routes" due to road construction (of which there is a lot here) or the odd mapping error. What happens then when there are way-points you have already passed?

The "3-D" view seems pretty useless (unless I'm missing the point).

It looks like the only reason I would consider upgrading to 08 would be updated maps.

One other thing that bugs me is that S&T often seems to have trouble recovering from hibrination (which I use a lot) i.e. I get "satallite signal lost" and have to close and relaunch S&T to recover. Anyone else have this problem??

Laurie Forbes
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timber

Canada
1 Posts

Posted - 20 août 2007 :  19:54:10  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Marvin,

Thanks for your usual, thorough analysis of the product.

It seems the only reason I might want to purchase '08 would be to get the updated maps as well, but more importantly, correct locations for campgrounds.

For example the Birdsall Beach campground is located on the shore of Rice Lake east of Keene, Ontario; RR 3, 1170 Birdsall Line Rd.
Hastings ON K0L 1Y0 is the address as pulled from S&t, but S&T shows it as being west of Peterborough on Hogsback road.

It led me on a merry goosechase when attempting to find this place earlier this year.

Could you check this as a f'rinstance to see if things have improved?
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bpp.hun

Hungary
8 Posts

Posted - 20 août 2007 :  22:41:13  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Marvin,
you know about ETA for Autoroute 2008?
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 20 août 2007 :  23:12:23  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
bekair, neither am I personally affected by the issues of the lakes/rivers, GPS trail, and driving speeds. But those seem to be the most talked about problems by users. Quite a few of them, really.

Me personally, just like you, very disappointed with the 3D (perspective map view). I was looking forward to this one feature, but it is not usable. I'm sticking with the combination of "Dynamic turn view" & "Rotate map to follow travel direction".

The traveling icon makes the product look very unprofessional. I doubt it would take too much effort to correct it.

LoveToTravel, welcome to the forum! You are correct about Glencairn Ave. I wonder if it's just your street affected by this. I would unlikely notice this issue, because very seldom I enter my destination as for example 123 Glencairn Ave. Normally I would just omit the "Ave" part, and type just the 123 Glencairn. This way the program finds your street. But yes, something is not correct.

NoSmoke, no need for the internet to activate the product. You may do it over the phone.

S&T 08 seems to handle way-points the same way as S&T 07. The best is to delete a way-point when you reach it.

I haven't tested coming-out-of-hibernation issue in S&T 08.

timber, the icon for Birdsall Beach campground in 2008 version is located the same place as in v.2007. This issue seems to have affected many campgrounds. The only advice is I guess not to trust the campgrounds location icons, but instead navigate to the address included inside the information balloon :-(

bpp.hun, my guess is as good as yours. Let's see if we hear some news within few weeks. In the past a new version of AR released few short weeks after S&T.

Marvin Hlavac
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 21 août 2007 :  04:30:46  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote


Microsoft posted a "Tour" of this new version on its website www.microsoft.com/streets

Interestingly, there are at least a couple of instances where I can clearly see "Dynamic turn view" selected simultaneously with the new "Perspective map view". But this is not possible in the version I have. Would the screenshot belong to an older Beta version? Why would the same functionality not be possible in the final product?

Marvin Hlavac
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 21 août 2007 :  11:36:34  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Received via e-mail:


>
> May I ask if you've ever worked in commercial software development?
> Obviously you have programming experience, as you wrote an addon for S&T.
>
> Usually, the last beta before release is the most feature-complete
> version. The release is more stable than the last beta, which sometimes
> means that particularly problematic features must be disabled. In
> particular, you do not want to fix a small issue and thereby introduce a
> much larger issue.
>
> Between an early beta and a later beta, you're willing to take the risk
> since you have time to fix anything that comes up. After the last beta,
> you can no longer take the risk.
>
> Disclaimer: This is a complete guess, it may have nothing to do with the
> issue at hand. However, it describes the general situation.
>



Yes, that makes sense. However, the inability to use the new "Perspective map view" in conjunction with the "Dynamic turn view" feature is not a small issue. If the GPS icon cannot be kept to the bottom of the screen, then the new "Perspective map view" shouldn't have been introduced in this 2008 release at all. The new feature is not usable as is. The function's existence actually makes things worse now, because it adds to the myriad of choices users have in the GPS Task pane. The new and not properly working feature unnecessarily adds to the complexity users face when they are configuring Streets & Trips 2008.

Marvin Hlavac
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jim_joh

60 Posts

Posted - 21 août 2007 :  15:33:17  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I had a order with Amazon for S&T 2008 and shipping date of Aug. 20th. This morning I rec'd a email from them changing the shipping date to Sept. 12. Why is the change made at the last minute??? I cancelled the order. jim_joh
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NoSmoke

Canada
132 Posts

Posted - 21 août 2007 :  18:12:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Marvin:

Have you noticed any improvement in the finding of intersections? For example, "19* & 38*,calgary" gives different results than "38* & 19*,calgary". As you know, neither of those work properly if you use st or ave instead of the *s.

Laurie Forbes
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hazcaddy

Canada
43 Posts

Posted - 21 août 2007 :  19:19:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As one who doesn't use S&T in-car, but just uses it for route planning and "where the heck is" look-ups, is there anything in the 2008 edition that's a Must Have (other than more up-to-date maps)?

I currently have 2004, and was thinking about upgrading purely for the maps but if they're from 2006, Google would be more current and is free.
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dumpper

Canada
118 Posts

Posted - 21 août 2007 :  23:38:06  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hazcaddy

As one who doesn't use S&T in-car, but just uses it for route planning and "where the heck is" look-ups, is there anything in the 2008 edition that's a Must Have (other than more up-to-date maps)?

I currently have 2004, and was thinking about upgrading purely for the maps but if they're from 2006, Google would be more current and is free.



Sorry 'hazcaddy', unless you're talking about printing maps from the Google site, you're missing the point here ... S&T is an off-line GPS solution, for cars driving without the need for any connection to the internet.
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 21 août 2007 :  23:48:24  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
jim_joh, sorry to hear that! Did they say why the delay? Perhaps the first shipment sold out, next shipment expected in September?

NoSmoke, I just checked. 38&19 (and 19&38) generates the same result in 2008 as it did in 2007 :-(

hazcaddy nothing else new as far as I can tell. But the map data in v.2008 is approximately 4 years newer than in your v.2004. Check the credits in your version - it very likely is (c) 2002 Navteq.


S&T Keys 2.50 has just been uploaded. It is compatible with the new 2008 version, but not yet fully compatible with the "Connected Services" version. Download from here and read more info on the last page (page 50).

Marvin Hlavac
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gpspassion

93969 Posts

Posted - 22 août 2007 :  00:19:07  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks for this excellent review of what's "new and improved" ! The inclusion of the MSN direct receiver is a bit of a surprise, but certainly good news, I take it a subscription will be necessary after a trial period maybe ?

Based on our previous discussions, I think we've been able to establish that these are not Q2/2007 maps as the new portion of Highway 49 above Sutter Creek is not shown ?

Discounts and Assistance/Réductions et Assistance (Club GpsPasSion) / Où commencer?
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 22 août 2007 :  00:26:33  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
1. Yes, a reasonable (small) subscription fee is there, but if you purchase the "Connected Services" package, you will get free one full year.

2. Yes, no Q2-2007. So it could either be a Q1-2007, or the "(c) 2007 Navteq" is an error - in which case it would be 2006. But the data is "at least" 12 months newer (just the exact version is unknown).

Marvin Hlavac
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