Microsoft's 'Telescope' to compete with Google 'Sky'

Download Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope Spring Beta!

Not wasting any time in rebounding from its failed attempt to buy Yahoo, Microsoft is now readying its own response to Google Sky -- a tool known as Worldwide Telescope, which is set to launch at the end of the month.

The free software form Microsoft will be aimed at letting users view the night sky through data gathered by NASA's Hubble Space telescope and other telescopes throughout the globe, according to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

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The software will also make use of Web-based astronomy databases. Users will be able to build their own "tours" of stars and galaxies.

"This is taking data that's very complex, gathered over many years from many telescopes, and making it accessible," said Gates, during a speech in Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday.

Also according to Gates, the data collection methods in Worldwide Telescope can be adapted for many other subjects, such as genomics, or the science of genes.

But Gates didn't mention whether Microsoft is involved with any other projects utilizing similar approaches to gathering data.

The Redmond company's new service will be competing with Google Sky, rolled out in August of last year, which also uses data from the Hubble Space telescope and other telescopes worldwide.

As part of Google Earth, Google Sky leverages Google Maps. In addition to a 3D looks at stars and galaxies, Google Sky offers infrared, microwave, and historical views of the sky.

Google's historical view, for example, shows a hand drawn map of the sky originally published in 1792, with the constellations in their classical forms from the collections of David Rumsey.

Also in Jakarta last week, Microsoft used the platform of the Government Leaders Forum - Asia to announce the establishment of Microsoft Innovation Centers (MICs) in Indonesia and Pakistan.

Microsoft is launching five MICs in Indonesia. The first of these MICs opened on Friday, in conjunction with Gates' appearance in Jakarta.

Download Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope Spring Beta!

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