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Review: Microsoft AutoRoute
werdnanostaw
I ran it's older brother AR2010 for 4 months earlier this year on an N450 1.66GHz eMachines netbook with Win 7 Starter Edition without any problems.

I did upgrade the RAM to 2GB.

When I boot the PC it is already using about 0.8GB, even after I use Autoruns and Soluto to remove all the bloatware installed by the manufacturer, so it really needs the extra RAM to work properly.

Even then, if you let the track length build up over several days or if you load too many POIs it starts to slow down. It will eventually choke and repeatedly white out for a few seconds, ie all you see is the white background - the map detail won't be visible.

This can be "fixed" by turning off rotation (not liked by the navigator) to get to the end of the day but sometimes it becomes unusable and you have to start a new file before then.

Last year I ran 2010 on a slightly gruntier full sized laptop T4400 2.2GHz, still with only 2GB of RAM, and it had the same problem.

Windows Experience Index of 3.3 vs 2.3

Processor 5.5 vs 2.3
RAM 5.5 vs 4.5
Graphics 3.3 vs 2.8
Gaming graphics 3.3 vs 3.0
Hard disk 5.8 vs 5.9

The answer is, yes it will work on a netbook. Just don't record too many day's tracks to the same file.
RogerV
I'm running AR2010 on a Samsung N150 Plus with Win7 Starter and using a USB GPS receiver with GPSGate. Absolutely no problems at all.
Ken in Regina
I'm running Streets&Trips on an old Acer netbook with Windows 7 Home Premium and it works fine, if that helps. I cannot think of any reason AR would not work on the Starter Edition.

...ken...
impresario33
Hi Marvin,
How may I download a trip software (as MS Autoroute) for using it with a GPS. I am interested in Europe maps. I had in Canada MS Streets and Trips which I used it with a Garmin Pilot at that time.
Now I am in Romania and traveling in Europe a lot. I would be happy to have the same opportunity to link GPS with my mini laptop.
Thank you, Marvin
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Impresario, greetings to Romania, and welcome to the forum. AR is the same software as S&T you used in Canada, so the installation and usage will be the same, too. If you come across any issue(s) during installation and/or usage, you are welcome to post here, and we'll try to help.
Larry-TVI
Hi all!

I am a new member and I am planning a bike tour in Europe. I have an idea to use a combination of a netbook + MS AutoRoute + GlobalSat BU-353 receiver for navigation. I am a bit suspicious about quality of the maps. How detailed they are? A while ago I downloaded Open Source Maps for the Netherlands and small portion of Germany, and these two maps took almost 2 GB of space! The whole software is about 2 GB. What gives? Are those maps really included? Garmin sells their optional European maps for about $100, MS AutoRoute is $15 at Amazon. Does not make much sense to me.

And one more question. I know AR requires activation. Does it mean it cannot be installed on more than one computer?

Thanks in advance, Larry
Ken in Regina
I can't answer your questions about map details specifically but I can make one observation. It's really hard to compare open source maps with those supplied by commercial map suppliers like Navteq who supplies both Microsoft's and Garmin's detail maps. Open source projects will, almost by definition, contain a lot of detail content that won't likely filter up to the commercial suppliers for a long time. Or may never get there. Because there is no commercial demand to drive it. And because the information contained in the open source projects often does not meet any standards for accuracy.

That's not a critique of either set of map data. It is what it is. Most knowledgeable users will research and install a product, discover what its strengths and weaknesses are, and then will decide to either live with the weaknesses or try to supplement with something else that covers the weaker areas. Most will usually purchase a commercial product like Autoroute and if they wish to supplement will either use an online site like Google Maps or Mapquest, or use something like Open Streetmaps or similar open source data.

Some simply purchase two, or more, competing products to get everything they want covered.

Regarding the $15 purchase price for Autoroute off the shelf, that price likely means it's really old and the vendor is just trying to blow out old stock. If something seems too cheap, there's probably a good reason ... good for someone else but probably not for you.

I can't speak to pricing decisions by Garmin or Microsoft but I can assure you that from many many comparisons by many users the detail maps supplied to both companies by Navteq are virtually identical for all practical purposes.

Any differences in "accuracy" are typically due to one or both of two things. First is the vintage. Microsoft only updates theirs once per year. Garmin makes quarterly updates available for theirs. So to compare fairly you need to identify the correct vintage of the Microsoft data and compare it with the same vintage Garmin maps.

The second difference comes from the "packaging" activities of the two companies. The detail data as supplied by Navteq will be in a fairly generic format which then needs to be "converted" into the format Microsoft and Garmin use to deliver their maps. This conversion process is different for each company because their formats are different, from each other and from the standard format Navteq will be using. The conversion process, like any computer programs, is never bug free. So there will be minor differences in how and even whether certain types of data displays.

You can discover the answers to a couple more of your questions by looking at Autoroute on Microsoft's web site. First, you can look at their license agreement. It allows installation on a desktop computer and a portable computer simultaneously.

And, most importantly, you can download a 60-day trial version and discover whether it has the coverage and accuracy you require. This is the real product with all data and features enabled. The only restriction is that it quits working after 60 days if you do not purchase and enter a license key for it.

...ken...
Larry-TVI
Hi Ken,

First of all thank you so much for your super prompt reply. It seems, I did not do my "homework" and asked stupid questions instead. In fact, I did. Microsoft.com does not offer trial version of AutoRoute, only purchase - $40. If you know how I could do it, I would highly appreciate it.

If I could afford “simply buying two or more competing programs” I would not ask stupid questions. I am on a tight budget that’s why I try to make sure everything I buy will work.

As for the maps, yes, it’s a quite plausible explanation what you said.

Thanks again, Larry

P.S. I just contacted MS via live chat. They do not offer any free trials. Who does then?
P.P.S. $15 for this program at Amazon disappeared, a glitch or something? It's now "respectable" 40 bucks
Ken in Regina
Hi Larry,

No such thing as stupid questions. .. Except if you don't ask you stay stupid.

Sometimes you just don't know what to look for when you are on a site. A company like Microsoft has such a gigantic web site that it is hard to know exactly what to look for when you are there.

For instance if you don't know they have a free trial until someone tells you, you would not know to look.

Quote:
P.S. I just contacted MS via live chat. They do not offer any free trials. Who does then?
Microsoft does. See the link in Terry's reply. They have free trials for Autoroute and for Streets&Trips.

It is unfortunate but not unusual for staff who answer the phones at call centres to not know what they are talking about. We encounter this all the time. Garmin and other large companies are as bad as Microsoft for this.

That's the reason that web forums like this one are busy all the time.

Quote:
P.P.S. $15 for this program at Amazon disappeared, a glitch or something? It's now "respectable" 40 bucks
It is not unusual for "deals" like that to sell out really fast on Amazon or eBay. It's almost always old stock. But that is very often all that the buyers need. The large roadways do not change very much from one year to the next. Sometimes an exit is added here and there. But for someone who stays on the main roads a map that is two or three years old is not a big problem, especially if it's really cheap.

In fact it might be much newer than the old paper map in the glove box that they have been using happily for the past 15 years.

I still carry paper maps in the car as backup. I'm embarrassed to admit that the newest one is nearly 5 years old. The rest are older. .... I'm not really sure why I think I need Garmin's lifetime map updates with quarterly updates for my Nuvi GPS.

...ken...
Larry-TVI
Well, live and learn! I am downloading files as we speak! That's great! Thanks a bunch!
It's a pity though, I could buy it for just 15 bucks, whether it's old or new. Whatever...
I never rely entirely on any navigator. It's just a gadget with not much brain. Basically during a bike tour the only navigational question I usually have is "where I am". The rest (routing and such) I can do myself. Paper maps work and does not require batteries :-) Actually this is for the first time I decided to "indulge" us (me and my wife) to a "real" navigator during a bike tour. I am in the States though, and I guess, until I am in Europe I won't be able to really try the program.

Anyway, thanks guys you made my day.

Larry
tcassidy
While in North America, you can try Streets & Trips.


Terry
Larry-TVI
Terry, "Streets and Trips" is a similar program, but not the same. It covers USA and Canada only.
Like I said, MS USA does not offer AutoRoute as a free trial. Whatever the reason...

Larry
Ken in Regina
Larry, the reason Terry suggests downloading the Streets&Trips trial is that the user interface is identical. It's the exact same program except for the maps.

That will give you the opportunity to learn the program before you need it by using it locally. That way you can find out what it does, how it does it and decide which features you will probably find most useful on your trip. Streets&Trips/Autoroute is loaded with features and functions. We each only use a quarter of them. But we usually each use a different quarter!

And, of course, that will give you the opportunity to ask questions here while you've got lots of time to digest the answers rather than discovering some nifty feature that would be hugely helpful ........ after you get back from the trip.

When you say "bike" trip, do you mean bicycle or motorcycle? I'm a recovering biker. I rode motorcycles of all sorts for over 30 years, took 16 off and just started riding again summer before last (2010). I also have a mountain bike but haven't done any trips with it since I got back on a motorcycle. Mostly use if for exercise around home, when I'm not on the golf course or the motorcycle.

...ken...
Larry-TVI
Quote:
That will give you the opportunity to learn the program before you need it by using it locally.
Absolutely! I did not know I am THAT dull. That’s aging… :-)

Ken, I am sorry, but I meant bicycling trip, not motorcycle trip. We, I and my wife discovered Europe for ourselves two years ago and it was a total bliss. Traveling on a bike is like nothing else. We got addicted immediately. Funny, but we are former Europeans, just lived on the other side from the wall. :-)

Larry
SpadesFlush
I have a reasonable amount of experience with both AutoRoute and Streets and Trips. Terry's suggestion of trying S&T in the US is a good one because its layout and operating protocols are exactly the same and it is almost certainly a good idea to get used to the product in the US before landing in Europe. The level of map details are very much equivalent. That is not to say that every bike path will show up in AR, however. It, like S&T, is a road-oriented application so off-road trails or paths will probably not show. But having said that, I have found AR to be very thorough in showing existing roads, streets, and highways.

But I would caution against buying an out-of-date version of AR "on the cheap." Actually, AR evolved more substantially than did S&T in the past 6 or 7 years. AR's most recent version has many countries that earlier versions did not (in contrast to S&T which has had everything for a long time). Also, the most recent version of AR has in-town street details that earlier versions did not. It used to be that some, even quite large, cities only had the main arteries shown in AR. However, now the newest version has very good detail of all the places I have been to. I would think this would be super-important on a bicycle.
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