Microsoft's Virtual Earth 3D gets boost with Caligari acquisition

In an attempt to level the playing field with Google Earth, Microsoft has scooped up Caligari, makers of 3-D rendering software.

The small company's software will play a big part in enhancing the three dimensional experience within Virtual Earth. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"I am deeply convinced that union of Caligari technologies and the scope of Virtual Earth project and vision behind it creates the perfect home for us and new opportunities for each one of you as part of the Virtual Earth community," CEO Roman Ormandy said in a note to users.

Ormandy also stressed that there were "no compromises" in the acquisition, saying Microsoft actually caused the company to expand its vision for the "3D web." No changes will be made to the team or its legion of beta testers.

Caligari's main product is something called trueSpace, which renders lifelike 3D representations of landscapes within a web environment. With this technology in Virtual Earth, Microsoft's 3D efforts there should improve significantly.

When 3D was first announced for Microsoft's mapping product, some commented that while it was a nice feature, many of the renderings lacked depth. Caligari's software platform will likely address those concerns.

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