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Review: Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008
Marvin Hlavac
Microsoft Streets and Trips is for many businesses and individuals undoubtedly the most appropriate desktop mapping product on the market today. It combines the familiar Windows interface, ease-of-use, plethora of features, and high quality map data licensed from Navteq Corporation, the leader in the industry. In this review I will attempt to point out at least some of the Streets & Trips features which may not be found, or which may not work so well, in competing products. But also I will mention some suggestions for feature improvements which have been discussed in various on-line communities.

Microsoft Streets & Trips (or S&T for short), started over 10 years ago as a trip planning product. In the most recent years Microsoft has been improving the GPS navigation related functionality. Every one of the past 4 versions included several significant improvements in this area, making S&T with GPS a viable option for many.


Map coverage:
  • Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 is meant for the North American market:

    Detailed street-level maps and address find capability for USA (including Alaska and Hawaii), and Canada (all provinces and all territories).

    In addition, it also provides street-level coverage, but does not support address find for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas).

    Mexico map includes major highways throughout the country and street-level coverage of Mexico City and the city of Monterrey. Address find feature is not supported.
  • Microsoft AutoRoute is the same product, but it includes street map coverage of most of Europe. The latest version review has been posted in: Microsoft AutoRoute.

    Detailed street-level maps and address find capability for Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

    In addition, it provides some street-level coverage, but does not support address find, for Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Guernsey, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Monaco, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia and Vatican City.

In addition to the street-level map data for the above listed countries, the Microsoft program(s) can locate countries, cities, and towns all around the world.

How to find addresses, intersections, businesses, etc:

The ability to quickly and easily search for streets, addresses, intersections, and POIs (points of interest) is very important in any mapping and navigation product. I like the various methods of searching S&T (Streets & Trips) allows. A user may just simply type onto the input line in Route Planner as much or as little of an address or a business name, and then press Enter-key on the keyboard to search. This way a destination address can be entered in many cases in about 5 seconds - that would be impossible to achieve on a PDA, or a PND, or an OEM GPS built into a dashboard, where destination entering is a several step long process. Once a taxi driver told me a few of his colleagues purchased various GPS units, but none of them actually used them at work anymore. I can understand why. No self-respecting professional taxi driver will ever spend 20 or more seconds attempting to enter a destination address into a GPS unit while a customer is wondering why the driver isn’t driving already instead. But 5 seconds is acceptable, isn't it?

The input line of the "Route Planner" pane allows for entering not just addresses, business names, POIs, but we can easily search for example even intersections. To search for Main Street and King Street one would just place an ampersand in between the two: Main St & King St (or just main&king). S&T will quite often correct even misspelled street names - a feature that has come handy on many occasions.

Every time a search is performed, we not only see a textual list of results, but we simultaneously see the results on the map as well. If you are presented with multiple search results, and if the first one is not the correct one, then just use the Down Arrow and Up Arrow keys of your keyboard to highlight which of the search results you wish to see.

Another method of searching for POIs is by using the Find Nearby Places pane. It allows us to perform a search within a desired distance from a point on the map, or from our route. The search results can be presented to users in alphabetical order, or starting from the closest. The Find Nearby Places tool has number of categories: Airports (Major), Airports (Minor), Amusement Parks, ATM’s, Auto Services, Banks, Bus Stations, Campgrounds, Casinos, Cinemas, City/Town Halls, Convention Centres, Galleries, Gas Stations, Golf Courses, Grocery Stores, Hospitals, Hotels and Motels, Landmarks, Libraries, Marinas, Museums, Night Clubs and Taverns, Park and Rides, Police Stations, Rental Car Agencies, Rest Areas, Restaurants (divided to 15 different type categories), Schools, Shopping, Ski Resorts, Stadium and Arenas, Subway Stations, Theatres, Train Stations, and Wineries.

If you don't wish to be limited to these categories, and if you have access to the Internet, you may take advantage of the integrated Live Search feature. The on-line database is much larger and more up-to-date. It allows searches by phone numbers, too. Search results can be saved.

Routing:

The quality of routing depends on two things: 1) the quality of the underlying map data, and 2) the routing algorithm. S&T has been known for very good routing. Occasionally a user brings up a valid example of an error, but overall Streets & Trips excels in this area and I have always used it to compare other products against.


The above screenshot shows a simple route from A to B. It is not necessary to enter the starting point while using S&T connected to a GPS receiver - the program will know where you are.

Microsoft Streets and Trips has some unique and very powerful ways for route modifications. It is possible to simply click the highlighted route on the map, and then drag it to any other road or highway we wish to use instead. Or we may draw a rectangle around the area we want to avoid. This way we may in an instant achieve something which could take very long in other GPS solutions.

GPS navigation:

After a few versions of Microsoft adding new GPS features to the program, we can finally say Streets and Trips does have all the basics (and more) users would expect. Now is perhaps good time to start working on the driver-friendliness. GPS Task pane is the area where users can change map orientation, turn on or off GPS tracking, enable driving guidance, etc. While on the road it would be preferable to have an easier alternative to using a mouse to control the items in the GPS Task pane. The free S&T Keys add-on helps, but more people would benefit if similar functionality was built right into Streets & Trips itself.


The above screenshot was taken while "Dynamic turn view" and "Rotate map to follow travel direction" features were enabled. A suggested area of improvement would be to pin the GPS arrow to one spot on the screen so the icon does not move at all. Also, when users try to zoom-in or zoom-out, the program should zoom on the GPS icon, not on the centre of the screen, which is not where the icon is (in Dynamic turn view).

The new "Perspective map view" would benefit if it were available at all zoom levels, and if the GPS location icon could be kept close to the bottom of the map.

Other features:

Microsoft Streets and Trips allows users to draw on the map. We may add text, pushpins, arrows, shapes, etc. Pushpins may include links to websites or other Internet resources. They may also include links to files and folders on your computer. Some users place a pushpin on the map where their customer is located, and then link the pushpin to a folder or a file designated for the customer.

And just for the record, S&T, just like perhaps all other GPS navigation solutions these days, is capable of such basic tasks as toll road avoidance, highway avoidance, awareness of one-way streets, prohibited turns, quickest route, shortest route, automatic route recalculation when we detour, voice directions, etc, etc, ...

S&T can optimize the order of stops - a feature delivery people may find useful.

There are many more features not listed in this review. Feel free to ask questions, or add additional info.

Different versions of Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008:

There are three versions: 1) software-only, 2) software w/GPS receiver, and 3) the "Connected Services" version. All three versions include the same software program, and the only difference is the included hardware. If you already have a good GPS receiver, then most likely you will opt to buy just the program (street price approximately $40). If you consider yourself an early adopter of new technology, and if you are intrigued by the new "Connected Services" version, here's a short video clip to demonstrate how it works:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C33tc9yqLM

Before you spend $160 just remember this is new technology, it may not be 100% reliable, and the coverage may not be where you need it. Some GPS device manufacturers have been providing similar service for a while and related issues have included coverage limited to only some geographical areas, missing information about some traffic incidents, and occasionally delayed information about traffic. Like with anything else in life - if you expect too much you may be disappointed, but if your expectations are reasonable, then perhaps you may find the traffic flow, traffic incidents, and gas prices information very useful.


Above is a couple of pictures of a law enforcement vehicle equipped with a Windows XP laptop running Microsoft Streets & Trips with S&T Keys add-on. Kevin, thanks for allowing me to take the photos :-)



Questions? Comments?
tourlousti
merci beaucoup
zammer
Just found this site looking for info on S&T,this place is a Gold mine of info,congrats on a very nice job,should make my learning S&T 2008 much easier.
nialag
Street-level coverage of the city of Guadalajara has been added in S&T 2008...


merci pour ton excellent travail...

Alain
Marvin Hlavac
You are absolutely right! I missed that one! Microsoft is, little-by-little, improving the map coverage of Mexico. MS Streets & Trips 2006 added street level map coverage of Mexico City. MS Streets & Trips 2007 added detailed coverage of Monterrey, the second largest commercial city in the country. And now, Microsoft Streets & Trips 2008 adds street-level map coverage of Guadalajara, the capital city of the Mexican state of Jalisco.
nialag
I was there in last January...

I ride over 3000 Km across Mexico as far south than Manzanillo…

I use S&T 2007 and the GPS Trail was very useful… I get back many time to the main road very easily with that trail and also get out of many small city !

I plan to be back in Mexico in 2008.

Merci pour les informations.

Alain


P.S.: À quand la version française de S&T
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by nialag
P.S.: À quand la version française de S&T
Il est un produit Americain. Bonne chance.

Pardon mon pauvre francais. Je suis un Anglo.

...ken...
nialag
Autoroute est en plusieurs langues...

"Streets & Trips for Europe

Microsoft AutoRoute, the European version of Streets & Trips, provides maps of 37 European countries, and is available in multiple languages. To learn more about AutoRoute in a local language, select a country from the list below."

Why not in Canada ???

Beaucoup de Québecois n'utilisent pas S&T parce qu'ils ne maîtrises pas suffusamment l'anglais...

Alain
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by nialag
"Microsoft AutoRoute, the European version of Streets & Trips, provides maps of 37 European countries, and is available in multiple languages. "

Why not in Canada ???
I don't think the Americans consider Canada to be a foreign country.

Quote:
Beaucoup de Québecois n'utilisent pas S&T parce qu'ils ne maîtrises pas suffusamment l'anglais...
Cela est bon, beaucoup d'Américains ne parlent pas d'anglais.

...ken...
toyfountain
Quote:
Originally Posted by nialag

Alain


P.S.: À quand la version française de S&T
Keys en français est maintenant disponible pour fonctionner avec S&T anglais.

J'ai aussi préparé une version pour Autoroute de la France car les raccourcies de claviers ne sont pas les mêmes. Je ne peut dire jusqu'à quel degré il fonctionne car je n'ai pas de logiciel Autoroute. Les fichiers sont sur la section France de GPSPassions
.
(I've also prepared a version for the French Autoroute since the keyboard shortcuts are not the same. I can't say for sure to which degree it works because I don't have a copy of Autoroute. The files are on the France section of GPSpassions)
nialag
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
I don't think the Americans consider Canada to be a foreign country.
At least a other country... You must have a passport at the border !


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
Cela est bon, beaucoup d'Américains ne parlent pas d'anglais.

...ken...
And why not in Spanish for Mexico:

"Visite los vínculos siguientes si desea obtener consejos y sugerencias sobre el uso de AutoRoute 2007. Encontrará gran cantidad de información sobre cómo usar las características avanzadas cartográficas y de generación de rutas de AutoRoute 2007, como Buscar lugares cercanos, Marcadores y mucho más...

Con AutoRoute 2007 resulta fácil planear su viaje, su destino en 35 países europeos..."

Buenos tardes amigos.
MiniTex
Bought 2008/GPS a couple of weeks ago at a Sam's for $80 (US) and installed it on a new MacBook running XP/Home on the Windows partition. Used S&T last Friday on a day trip from our home in Cameron (TX) to NE San Antonio. We wanted to avoid the "normal" congestion on I-35 going through Austin by using the partially completed toll road on Austin's east side. Although the toll roads around Austin aren't on the map in S&T 2008 it wasn't a big deal, but it was "interesting" to watch the red arrow move sans road across the map! We didn't need S&T on our return trip Friday night so I can't comment on the green on black "radar scope" night view, but it has to help some by reducing glare.

Tried to find a way to offer feedback to M$ and I'm glad I found this site. My biggest grip is that the map should be more up to date. The previously mentioned toll roads have been under construction for some time, and at least the proposed routes should be indicated, IMO. Frankly I'd like to see M$ offer map updates fairly often, and I wouldn't mind paying a reasonable amount for them.

I discovered that simply using the minus and plus keys zooms the screen in most views, and I'd like to see mileage scales in all views. I don't think they were available on the "Arrange Map View" screen, or whichever view has a compass top center on the screen. I also need to come up with a secure/stable mobile mount that also lets me pull the L/T quickly for safe storage when I leave the car.

I'd considered buying a PC L/T for a couple of years primarily to run S&T and a couple of other PC only apps. Needless to say I was very happy when Apple made dual booting possible, and I really like the MacBook with its 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and the 4 gig of RAM I installed, but I may need to install a bigger HD than the OEM 120 if I want to ruin much on the Windows side.

Hopefully M$ will listen to suggestions and continue to improve the program.

FWIW,
Ron
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by MiniTex
... but I may need to install a bigger HD than the OEM 120 if I want to ruin much on the Windows side. ...
Hi Ron,

A little Freudian slip there?

Hope you have a great '08.

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
MiniTex, recently someone mentioned difficulties getting a GPS receiver recognized on a MacBook. Did you have to do anything special to get it going? Or was it as simple as inserting the DVD to install Streets & Trips, and then plugging in the USB GPS receiver?
MiniTex
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
Hi Ron,

A little Freudian slip there?

Hope you have a great '08.

...ken...
Ya think, Ken? I'm also thinking about running VMWare instead of/or in addition to BootCamp to facilitate switching OSs. Probably another "Pro" for a bigger drive. NewEgg has the new 320 gig 2.5 inch WD drives for a bit over $200 (US), but the 250s are under $150. I already have one 120 (from an expired L/T) in a small external case, don't guess another would hurt. My #1 rule of computing is, "There's no such thing as too much RAM or hard drive space!"

Ron
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