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Worldwide Telescope Expands Desktop Travel

Microsoft invites the world to travel to the stars

It's still a mystery how it all works, but the WorldWide Telescope is coming to a desktop near you in early spring.

Very few people have actually seen the product, but Microsoft promises it will be better than Google sky, WorldWide TelescopeWorldWide Telescopewhich is part of Google Earth. Yesterday, Microsoft presented the product at the exclusive Technology Entertainment and Design Conference in Monterey, CA.

"The WorldWide Telescope takes the best images from the greatest telescopes on Earth," said demonstrator, Harvard University astrophysicist Roy Gould. "This new resource will change the way we do astronomy...the way we teach astronomy....and, most importantly, I think it's going to change the way we see ourselves in the universe."

WorldWide Telescope came online with a bang, but the open-source or free technology won't be available until sometime this spring. The site is more hype than actual info about the product and user comments sound like awe-struck techies who were paid to say good things about Microsoft.

From the website, the product is built on Microsoft's Visual Experience Engine and boasts these features:

WorldWide Telescope is an observatory on your desktop, allowing you to see the sky in a way you have never seen before; individual exploration, multi-wavelength views, stars and planets within context to each other, zoom in/out, and a capability for anyone to create and share a tour of the universe.

The Visual Experience Engine delivers seamless panning zooming around the night sky.
WWT delivers seamless integration of science:-relevant information including multi-wavelength, multiple telescope distributed image and data sets, and one-click contextual access to distributed Web information and data sources.

Come on, Microsoft. Enough hype - let us at it.

I can't wait to cut loose on this and see how it compares with Google Sky. Because whether I'm traveling in my mind, on my desktop or for real, it's all travel to me.

What do you think of Microsoft's WWT? Looking forward to trying it out, or think it's all hype?

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