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Review: Microsoft AutoRoute
Marvin Hlavac
AutoRoute is a mapping software program capable of A to B routing, multiple-destination routing, it contains various annotation tools for drawing and typing on the map, it is capable of printing maps and trip directions in various pre-defined formats. It is more feature-rich than any online map product, yet it is rather inexpensive, as it is targeted for consumer market. Microsoft has also a business version of the software, MapPoint (link), with additional functionality.

AR interface
The North American version was just released (July 1). The license agreement of that product also refers to AutoRoute 2013, and AutoRoute 2013 with GPS Locator, so these products will release, but the ETA is unknown. Historically, the EU software released several weeks after the NA version. Here's the ST2013 review which should reveal what to expect from the new AR2013.
AutoRoute 2012 has been skipped.
What's new in version 2011

While earlier versions of the software always incorporated a plethora of new features, the current v.2011 can be just simply called a "map data refresher". Just like the North American 2011 version of the software, the European 2011 version introduces no new software functionality, but the approximately 1 year newer map data is welcome.

Map Coverage

Detailed road map of most of Europe: Albania, Andorra, Austria*, Belgium*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark*, Estonia, Finland*, France*, Germany*, Gibraltar, Greece*, Guernsey, Hungary, Italy*, Ireland, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg*, Macedonia, Isle of Man, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands*, Norway*, Poland, Portugal*, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, San Marino, Spain*, Sweden*, Switzerland*, United Kingdom*, and Vatican City. The countries marked with an asterisk (*) have the Address Find feature enabled.

A version of the product which includes road maps of North America is called Streets and Trips (link).

Users who haven't upgraded their version for a while, may be interested what was changed in the previous version:
Navigation View - View the map as the driver views the road. Users can enable/disable this feature in the GPS panel. When enabled, the roads closer to the GPS location appear larger, and those further away appear on the map smaller.

Automatic route recalculation - If you deviate from a plotted route, the software will automatically recalculate a new route for you. Users have the option to disable this feature.

Voice direction prompts include street names - Earlier versions only included distance to and direction of the next turn. The new version will pronounce the street name in addition to the distance and the direction information.

"Pan" and "Select" tools - Tao Yue, a member of this forum, writes:
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.
Driving Time, Next Stop, Distance To End - All this data is now shown in the Navigation pane.

Save custom map settings and reuse them when the map reopens - Users can set the software to save their custom settings upon close.

Import/Export .GPX files - Plan your trip, then move the data to your GPS navigation device, such a Garmin Nuvi, if compatible. The new Import/Export GPX functionality makes it possible to move data in and out of the software.

Send to mobile phone - Send, for example, POI data from the program to a mobile phone.

Show/Hide pushpin set, Show/Hide pushpin information - This feature makes it finally practical to work with large numbers of pushpins and pushpin sets.

Delete visible pushpins inside or outside of a selected area - Select an area on the map, and then delete pushpins either inside or outside of the area.

The 10,000 addresses import limit has been removed - The hard coded limit has been removed. The specifications of your computer are the limiting factor now.

Back/Forward - The Back and Forward menu buttons have been removed, but the functionality is still present. The feature can be accessed via the Main Menu > View, or via keyboard shortcuts Alt+ LeftArrow and Alt+RightArrow.

Rename Route Stops - Right-click on stop in the Route Planner, then select "Rename".

Pause Windows Media Player during spoken navigation instructions - Useful for those using the software for real-time navigation while playing music in Windows Media Player.

Please, read our version 2010 review for more details.

More related discussions, tips, and tricks can be found in our forum.

Questions / Comments?
werdnanostaw
The 2011 site still says it covers 37 countries but Marvin's list includes 43 countries.
The new countries are:

Albania
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Macedonia
Montenegro
Russia
Serbia
None of the new countries have address-find. Address-find hasn't been added to any of the previously included countries that didn't have it.
The countries with address-find are:

Austria
Belgium
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Italy
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Norway
Portugal
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom
The countries without address-find are:

Albania
Andorra
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech Republic
Estonia
Gibraltar
Guernsey
Hungary
Ireland
Isle of Man
Jersey
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Macedonia
Monaco
Montenegro
Poland
Romania
Russia
San Marino
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Vatican City
AR2010 had "5.1 million miles of routable roads".

AR2011 has "5.7 million miles of navigable roads".

Presumably, most of the extra miles are in the newly added countries.

The road coverage for AR2010 was < 75% for:

Bulgaria
Croatia
Romania

and it was < 50% of population base for:

Greece

(I drove through the < 75% countries in the last two months and I can say that it was significantly less than 75%. Some city centres are covered but they stop abruptly 1 km from the centre, like Constanta in Romania. Out of town only the E (European) routes are shown.

We used a mixture of Garmin and Open Street Maps throughout the Balkans because AR2010 just didn't have the coverage we needed.)

I haven't been able to find any information on the coverage in the added countries or any increase in coverage of the previously included countries.

I haven't even been able to find Marvin's list of included countries. He obviously has sources of info that we're not yet privy to.

The features of AR2011 are listed as:
Includes updated maps for Eastern and Western Europe: 37 countries covered.
5.7 million miles of navigable roads.
1.5 million points of interest. Updates to listings for hotels, wineries, pharmacies, petrol stations, restaurants, and more.
Intuitive interface that you've used before.
Easy to identify one-way streets at a glance.
Easy to delete or hide groups of pushpins.
Now comes with more than 300 unique pushpin images to choose from.
Find your way quickly and easily by entering an address, postcode, or place to get maps and step-by-step directions for your journey.
Plan your way with flexible trip planning options like custom start times, driving speeds, rest breaks, and even preferred types of roads!
Save time by setting your map to always start at a particular location, and personalize with comments, phone numbers, and notes for planned stops.
Calculate petrol usage and costs before you leave, and also get a list of stops for petrol stations.
"Intuitive interface that you've used before" because you didn't update the software, did you!

"Save time by setting your map to always start at a particular location". How? By creating a template? As far as I'm aware AR2010 didn't have a Home option like TomTom amongst others.

"get a list of stops for petrol stations" How?

The price of AR2011 on the MS UK web site is the same as for AR2010 - GBP 44.99.

The price on the MS US web site for AR 2010 is USD 39.95, ie GBP 24.50!!

As per usual as soon as I go to the MS UK store it says "I see you are from Australia. Bugger off."

On the MS US store it waits until you try and buy the product before it gives you the old heave ho.

Ditto on Amazon.

Of course, the MS AU store doesn't have AR available.

I will have to get a US friend to buy it for me as I did last time or run the trial in a virtual machine and renew the VM every 60 days.

The options for buying AR2011 are rather strange:

Buy Download
44.99
Buy Download + Backup Disc
44.99 + 8.99
Buy Package
44.99

If you download it, it costs 44.99.

If you download it and also buy the package it costs 53.98.

If you buy the package it costs 44.99.

So they are charging you 8.99 to download it and use it for a few days before the package arrives.

If I wanted the package I'd order just that and use the trial, assuming there is going to be one, until the package arrived and then register the trial with the serial number in the package.

Going back to the price differential between US and UK at least the Apple App Store has made some allowance for the increase in the AUD. Apps that cost USD 0.99 used to cost AUD 1.49. They have now been reduced to AUD 0.99.

This is better than it was but since AUD 1.00 = USD 1.10 there is still a 10% "you don't live in the USA tax" (YDLITUT).

I understand the price of apps went up on the UK app store because the GBP has gone down relative to the USD.

Even so, they don't have the extortionate 84% YDLITUT that MS applies to AutoRoute.
Marvin Hlavac
Andrew,

Often, users would word descriptions of product features differently than marketing professionals. :-)
ian81
Andrew, don't know if using something like expat shield to hide your Aus IP address and give yourself a US one would work?
werdnanostaw
I haven't tried that. I will give it a go.

However, I suspect they will then reject me when I try and use an Oz credit card or a non-USA mailing address.

There is a continual discussion in Oz about why things are dearer here than in USA or even UK and ways to overcome the problem, eg

Why Can’t We Get Better Prices On Goods From The US? | Lifehacker Australia
RogerV
Does anyone have any knowledge of the GPS receiver supplied with AutoRoute 2011?

AR 2011 is being offered on Amazon UK at a hefty discount compared to MS's own site.
Marvin Hlavac
It is the identical "GPS Locator" Microsoft has included with its mapping software for the past couple of years. It's the Navation GPS 168 USB GPS stick. The following are some discussions we've had here at the forum about this unit:

http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/1109-microsofts-new-u-blox-5-usb-gps-stick-others

http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/872-u-blox-gps-technology-power-new-microsoft-usb-gps-receiver

http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/1105-review-u-blox-5-usb-gps-stick-new-gps-locator-microsoft-streets-trips
RogerV
Thanks Marvin.
SpadesFlush
I love the marketing-speak "Intuitive interface that you've used before" which means we here at Microsoft haven't given you users any new pesky features or enhancements that you have to learn. What a relief!
RogerV
I downloaded the trial edition yesterday. By importing a GPX file from a trip I did last year, it appears that changes to roads, at least in the UK, have not been included.

Admittedly, this was only a short section of road which has been bypassed and had been when I made the trip, i.e. my GPS trail appears to leave the road and go off cross country (except that I didn't).

Unless one has a use for the additional country's maps I don't see the point of buying this version.
werdnanostaw
It says there are still only 37 countries on the page below which is linked to directly from the Trial Page.

Can someone please confirm that the extra countries are included.

Albania
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Macedonia
Montenegro
Russia
Serbia

http://www.microsoft.com/uk/autoroute/coverage.aspx
Marvin Hlavac
Andrew, the information at the Microsoft's web site might have not been updated for this version, yet. Or at least not all the information is up-to-date. Just like the Help file, it may contain some information that was accurate in earlier versions, but may no longer be 100% valid.

The countries you listed, except Russia, are included (I just double-checked). The road detail is limited to only a few main highways, but it may be better than nothing, and it's a start.

I removed the reference to Russia from my first post. That was an error.
werdnanostaw
Your review of MapPoint says it covers Russia.

Is that an error?

I have been to the countries listed below in May and June and tried to use AR2010 there. There was "limited to only a few main highways" coverage.

Has there actually been any change in the coverage in these countries?

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Macedonia
Montenegro
Serbia

You seem to have a "special relationship" with Microsoft. Is there any one you can ask on the AR team who can advise exactly what changes have been made between AR 2010 and 2011?

The reason I ask is that I am away from home (I'm housesitting for my mother) and I only have very limited quota Internet access so I can't download the trials for MapPoint or AR 2011 and check for myself.
Marvin Hlavac
Andrew, disregard the "Russia". It's an incorrect piece of information. It took me a while to find the original source of info where Russia was indeed listed, but it is incorrect.

I no longer have 2010 installed, so I'm unable to compare the coverage v2010 versus v2011 of the countries you listed in your last post, but I suspect not much has changed for the better. I really only see a few roads, which are likely just some of the main highways, in those countries.

Expect the same coverage in the new MapPoint.
thrice23
Hello,

Has anyone tried this software on a netbook equipped with Windows 7 Starter. Microsoft's site does not mention if it will work on not.

Thanks!
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