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Review: Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009
Marvin Hlavac
The newest version of this trip planning software is here. Download a free 60-day trial version now, and share your first impressions with other users here in our forum. Tell us what you like or dislike about this newest release.

What's New:


Free trial version

Kudos to Microsoft for offering this free trial download! As far as I know, no other software developer offers free download of a trial version of trip-planning software, or laptop GPS navigation software. And this is not a one week or one month trial, either. Try Streets & Trips 2009 for 60 days!


Map data


Streets & Trips 2009 has approximately 12 months fresher map data than the previous Streets & Trips 2008 version. The road map is now based on 2008 NAVTEQ data.

I see a huge improvement in Mexico map coverage. While the address find feature is still not functional for Mexico, the country now does contain street-level map coverage for even many smaller towns. Are you planning a vacation in Mexico soon? Microsoft Streets & Trips 2009 is the only consumer GPS product that I'm aware of, that actually includes navigable map data for popular tourist destinations including locations such as Acapulco, Ixtapa, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.

I briefly checked the major online map services, but none of them (including Microsoft's own Live Maps) contains as good map coverage for Mexico as Streets & Trips 2009. More on Mexico: http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/2101-mexico-map-coverage-microsoft-streets-trips#post14537

Thanks to Terry (a.k.a. tcassidy) for pointing out that his home town, Ladysmith, BC, Canada, now (finally) has street names:

Old version of Streets and Trips 2008:


New version of Streets and Trips 2009:


There are still smaller towns in Canada that show no street names on the map of Streets & Trips 2009, but it is nice to see that the situation is improving each year a little bit. Keep up the good work, Navteq!

S&T 2008: S&T 2009:

The above two screen shots compare the same map area in Streets & Trips 2008 versus Streets & Trips 2009. The latter includes new roads that were not included in earlier versions of the program.

Each year a new Streets & Trips release includes fresher map data. Have you noticed any map improvements in your geographical area in version 2009, too?

Europe

There is a version of Microsoft Streets and Trips that includes street-level map data for Europe. For more information on the product read our review: Microsoft AutoRoute.

Voice direction prompts that include street names


Previous versions of Streets and Trips would simply say: "Turn right", the new version of Streets & Trips 2009 will say: "Turn right on Main Street".

"Pan" and "Select" tools

Quote:
Originally Posted by taoyue
The single greatest improvement in usability is the integrated pan/select cursor. Left-drag to pan, right-drag to select. You no longer need to keep switching back-and-forth between the two tools when moving around the map. Saves a huge amount of clicks and mouse travel in normal usage. Nitpick: discoverability of feature.
Tao wrote the above when he first tested Microsoft MapPoint 2009. The same functionality is now in Microsoft Streets & Trips 2009. S&T Team wrote an article about this feature: Where did the "Pan" and "Select" tools go on the Toolbar in S&T 2009?

Automatic re-routing

First introduced last year in Streets & Trips 2008. Most users liked it, but some users said they wanted the ability to turn it off. Microsoft understood the concerns involved, and the new implementation of this feature in Streets and Trips 2009 allows users to turn in off, or keep it on.

Integration with Live Search


The Streets & Trips 2009 built-in POI (points of interest) database contains approximately 1.6 million POIs. However, if users of Streets & Trips have Internet access, they may use this Live Search feature to search much larger database of POIs online, and the POIs will be displayed on the Streets & Trips map.

This feature was included in the previous Streets & Trips version, but the geocoding was quite bad - at least in my area. I tested this issue in the new Streets & Trips 2009, and I'm glad to say the geocoding seems perfect now.

Genealogy, anyone? The above picture shows a successful search result for cemeteries. The "Find nearby places" feature doesn't have the cemeteries category, but the "Live Search" feature in Streets & Trips is not limited by the "Find nearby places" categories. I don't know the exact number of POIs in the database, but I suspect the number is quite large. I've tested products with 12 million POIs, and I was unable to find many of the POIs I can easily access now.

Navigation map view (3D-view)


This feature was introduced in Streets & Trips 2008. It was then called "Perspective map view". There were problems with it, and the feature didn't become popular. Issues reported by users have been addressed by Microsoft, and the feature is usable now. It works as it should.

This feature is optional. Turn it on if you like it, Don't use it if you don't. I personally do like it. The first picture above shows Streets & Trips 2009 with the feature off, and the second picture is me driving home with the feature on.


The following are random new items located in Streets & Trips 2009 Options:


There is no longer the need to visit online communities to read about rumors of upcoming update. Your Streets & Trips 2009 will automatically notify you when Streets & Trips 2010, or Streets & Trips 2011, or Streets & Trips 2012 becomes available.


Remove the check-mark if you just cannot stand Microsoft Anna mispronouncing the name of your street.


I see truckers, RVers, and others sending thank-you cards to Microsoft for not making the auto re-route mandatory.


This feature will make many people very happy! Start GPS when program starts! Finally!


Nice touch, Microsoft!

GPS trail - problem fixed

Create GPS trail feature was introduced in the 2005 version of Streets & Trips. There was a known issue that caused map refresh problems on long road trips. This has been corrected, as reported by Larry in another thread. I tested it while driving on a highway for several hours, and the feature indeed appears to be working flawlessly in the new Streets and Trips 2009.

Entertainment Online


Microsoft added integration with Entertainment Online to download their discount coupons into Streets and Trips 2009. To learn more details about this feature, please read Find Money Saving Coupons Easily in Streets and Trips 2009.

Streets & Trips with Connected Services has been discontinued

There is currently no plan to release another version of "Connected Services" edition of Microsoft Streets and Trips.

Pushpins

S&T 2008: S&T2009:

Older versions of Streets & Trips had many more pushpins than the new 2009 version of the product. Old-style pushpin symbols can be easily added to the new program by using the free template found at http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/1032-template-old-style-pushpins-streets-trips-2009-mappoint-2009-a

Back & Forward

S&T 2008: S&T 2009:

I haven't noticed this at first, because I never used the back/forward feature myself, but others have noticed that the new Streets and Trips 2009 no longer has this functionality.

Location Sensor

S&T 2008: S&T 2009:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gladwin
The location sensor has been moved to the status bar
This is a better implementation of this feature. Latitude and longitude are always visible in the new Streets & Trips 2009. Users no longer need to enable Location Sensor.

Versions


As in previous years, there are two products:

* A software-only version for people who just need the program alone. That version costs around US $35. It is suitable for people who will use the program as a desktop trip-planning tool, with no intention to use it with a GPS receiver, or who already have a GPS receiver from previous Streets & Trips versions.

* A version that includes a laptop (USB) GPS receiver. This version costs around US $80. If you already own a USB GPS locator from earlier versions, or any other compatible GPS unit, you don't need to buy this version. Buy just the program alone ($35).


Microsoft Streets and Trips 2009 with GPS Locator includes in the USA the USB GPS-500 receiver by Pharos. It is the same SiRFstarIII unit that was included in 2007 and 2008 versions.


In Canada, the GPS locator included will be a new u-Blox 5 chip-based product. More info has been posted in the following thread: http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/1105-review-u-blox-5-usb-gps-stick-new-gps-locator-microsoft-streets-trips


Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan Cooldude
For the foreseeable future, Streets & Trips 2009 sold in the US will have the Pharos GPS device.


Questions? Comments?
tcassidy
My UMPC (and only my UMPC) offers to speak street names with either Mary or Anna (with Mobile PC) I am going to try S&T 2009 on this device to see if Mary is better than Anna.

I know I could test with MPC but I need an excuse.

Terry
Attached Images
voices.jpg  
tcassidy
Pretty light on POIs in my area. One listing only for Ladysmith. I bet iNav could beat this. But at least it finally has street addresses for here.

Oops! I didn't have second page selected. It adds the Royal Bank and Ladysmith Inn. Oh well.
Terry
Attached Images
st2009poi.jpg   st2009poi-2.jpg  
glennw
I'm going to try the 60 day trial. I would be buying it when released anyway.
The thing I notice most from the review is that so many of the new items are Microsoft reacting to feedback from user's complaints and suggestions.
Kudos to Microsoft for listening and responding.

Glenn
Marvin Hlavac
Terry, the only text-to-speech engine that my Windows Vista laptop has, is Microsoft Anna. I tried Microsoft Mary few years ago (she came with MS AutoRoute), but I still liked Anna better. However, there are better text-to-speech voices I've heard. Some may be purchased online, but I've never tested any 3rd party TTS engine with Streets & Trips, so I don't know which ones are compatible.

Is Streets & Trips 2009 the very first S&T version to include street names for Ladysmith, BC? Navteq seems to be improving map data each year a little bit.

Glenn, yes, kudos to Microsoft for listening to Streets & Trips users, and for all the fixes and improvements in Streets & Trips 2009. The release of the 60-day free trial version was a big and a pleasant surprise, too!
tcassidy
Marvin,
You haven't been listening to my diatribes (and who can blame you). S&T 2009 is the first version of this program to include street names and addresses SINCE S&T 2004.

I know I live in a backwater underdeveloped area but they don't have to keep reminding me.


Terry
Attached Images
s-t11.jpg   s-t2008.jpg   s-t2009.jpg  
tcassidy
It looks pretty good on the UMPC at 800x600 but the Navigation area should be adjustable. It shows the adjustment cursor but it doesn't work.

Terry
Attached Images
2009nav.jpg  
cypriot
hi everybody
taoyue
Strictly speaking, 800x600 is no longer a supported resolution. Notice the System Requirements are now 1024x768. This is unfortunate, I feel, as UMPCs and netbooks become more popular.

In future versions, I hope there will be some tweaking of text-to-speech so that common highway abbreviations are not mispronounced. SR-27 is currently spoken as "Senior twenty-seven", and US-1 as "Us One." It's not that hard to fix this -- just do some preprocessing of the text with regular expressions before sending it to the TTS engine.
tcassidy
Yes, the best this UMPC can do is 1024x600 and the navigation bar does not get much smaller at that resolution. I think 800x600 is the best compromise between clarity and screen waste though.

Terry
Attached Images
2009-800-480.jpg   2009-800-600.jpg   2009-1024.jpg  
theorange
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin Hlavac
Microsoft AutoRoute has been discontinued

Microsoft AutoRoute 2007 was the last version of this product. There is not going to be AutoRoute 2008, AutoRoute 2009, nor AutoRoute 2010. The product has been discontinued.
This is very disappointing news. Why has this decision been taken? Were there simply not enough sales of the product in Europe?

It seems that since S&T and MapPoint Europe are to be continued as usual, surely doing an Autoroute build with the European maps would barely take any time at all.

Are there any other decent desktop route planning apps for Europe that people can recommend instead?
Ken in Regina
If you buy Garmin's City Navigator Europe, it comes with a desktop planning program called MapSource on the DVD. It does not have all the features of Streets&Trips but it is decent. Garmin uses the same Navteq data for its North American maps that Microsoft uses. Garmin also uses Navteq data for Europe. I don't know what Microsoft uses.

If you decide to investigate this option, phone Garmin and ask whether you can use MapSource with the maps without having a Garmin navigation device to unlock the maps to. Garmin has the annoying habit of only unlocking their maps to one of their own nav devices. With the North American maps I've got, if you don't have a Garmin device to unlock them to you can't even look at them on the desktop in MapSource. They may have a different policy with the Europe maps. It's an email to their Product Support or a free phone call to their toll-free support line.

...ken...
jsnoik
Decided to download the 2009 sample.
To a large extent, the new version looks good.
I use mine S&T for pizza deliveries. I have trailed every street in my area because many of the 2007 streets were either missing or not aligned to where I travel.
I have also used the pushpins to note house addresses.

My reaction after looking at one of my work maps, is Thank God I had custom pins. The Pin set is down to very few. I had used the S&T 2007 numbers to indicate the hundreds digit for the house numbers. And created my own set to go from 00 to 99. (I had created my own because the S&T set only went to 50.)

The other pin set that was removed, that I was using, was the letters. Since the text box obscures the map, I did not like using it. I would put a letter pushpin at the end of the new or missing street, based on the first letter of the street name.

It would have been nice, if there was a simple way to import the images. The solution I came up with is to put the desired pushpin image on a map. Copy the map image into an editor. And crop the image down to a 16x16 pixel image based on the pushpin.

One thing that I would have liked to have seen was to be able to rotate the text box. This way, if it is used to name a new street, it can be aligned to the street. Or, better yet, you have a street naming option. Or, it may have to be a way to have a street name on a line.

As mentioned above, I had trailed all the streets where I deliver. But, the memory use was creating significant display lags. So I redrew the lines using the draw line feature. So longer streets may have 30 points or so, instead of thousands. Being able to have the name appear on that line would be nice. Or better yet, having some way to designate the line as a routable street, with a name, would be perfect.

I have barely looked at the 2009, so I am sure I will have more comments later.

John
taoyue
theorange, the discontinuance of Autoroute is a business decision. With Mappoint Europe, you can sell it to globalized corporations at €300 a copy, so it is just a matter of producing a new build and stamping out DVDs, like you said.

But Autoroute costs far less, and to a first approximation, it has decent sales figures only for one market: the UK. French and German sales are about 1/5 of that, judging from Amazon sales rankings. Streets and Trips is already a small product by Microsoft standards. Autoroute, then, would be merely tiny. At some point, someone in product planning apparently decided that it was no longer worth the hassle to continue selling it.
edh
Hi Cypriot, Welcome.

Marvin:
Your review of 2009 S&T is great. Did you use the trial version for the review?

Ed
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