Review: Microsoft AutoRoute 2010
Marvin Hlavac
AutoRoute 2010 has been released, or should we say "resurrected", since MSFT has skipped two version years, leaving us believing the excellent trip-planning and navigation software program was discontinued.

User interface

Let's look at some of the new features of version 2010 that were not present in the last 2007 version.

Improved map coverage

Map coverage of Europe

Version 2010 comes with street-level map data of 43 European countries versus the previous 2007 version which contained detailed map coverage of only 36 countries.

In total, the new 2010 version contains 8.3 million kilometers or 5.1 million miles of routable roads. Version 2007 had 6.3 million km / 3.9 million miles.

The North American version is sold under the name of Microsoft Streets and Trips (link), and it covers USA, Canada, and Mexico.

Navigation view

Navigation view

This feature is also known as "perspective view" or "3D" view. Many drivers may find it more suitable than the old style "2D" view. This feature is optional. Turn it on if you like it, Don't use it if you don't. I personally do like it.

Automatic route recalculation

AR2010 will reroute automatically if you miss your turn. This feature can be enabled/disabled by users.

Voice direction prompts include street names

Earlier versions said: "Turn left in 300 meters". The new v 2010 will say: "Turn left in 300 meters on Main street". Even this feature can be turned off by users who prefer to hear the shorter version, or those who have lower tolerance for mispronunciation of the text-to-speech engine.

On the following screen shot you can see where some of these new features can be enabled/disabled:


"Pan" and "Select" tools

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.
S&T Team wrote an article about this feature: Where did the "Pan" and "Select" tools go on the Toolbar in S&T 2009?

Driving Time, Next Stop, Distance To End

Driving time, next stop, and distance to end

The new AR2010 now shows remaining driving time to destination, distance to next stop, and distance to end destination, all in the bottom right corner of the Navigation pane.

Save custom map settings and reuse them when the map reopens

Map options

There is now an easier way to save some of the application's default settings. You can save such items as your desired default map view, which pane is shown when the program starts, etc.

Import/Export .GPX files

Import and export GPX files

AR is now capable if importing and exporting of .GPX files that can be used in other GPS applications and even in personal navigation devices.

Send to mobile phone

Send to mobile phone

You may send location information, such as POI info, from the software to a mobile phone.

POIs (Points of Interest)

New POIs

The "Find nearby places" feature has been expanded slightly by the addition of 6 categories: Border crossings, Civic and Community Centers, Entertainment, Ferry Terminals, Pharmacies, and Post Offices.

Previous versions had all restaurants in one category. Now there are separate categories by cuisine: Asian, BBQ, Chinese, Delis, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Other, Pizza, Seafood, Steak, and Thai.

In total, the new version contains
1,452,348 POIs. The previous version had 747,318 points of interest.

In addition to searching the built-in database of POIs, users can search a much larger database if/when connected to the Internet. Searches then can be performed even outside the categories of the "Find nearby places".

Show/Hide pushpin set, Show/Hide pushpin information

Show and hide puspin sets, and show and hide pushpin information

The new AR adds the ability for users to easily hide/show individual pushpin sets. When pushpin sets are shown, users can toggle show/hide all pushpin information balloons. This feature has been requested by users, and thanks to Microsoft for implementing it.

In earlier version it might have not been very practical to keep too many pushpins in one file, but it may start being quite practical now.
Tom Bernardi has observed that the new export and hide/show functions are connected:
Originally Posted by Tom Bernardi
Another great feature of this is that it will only export the pushpins that are showing, not the hidden ones. So, you can control what you export to your GPX file.
Delete visible pushpins inside or outside of a selected area

Delete visible pushpins inside / outside area

This is another new feature which will help users manage their pushpins.

The 10,000 addresses import limit has been removed

Earlier versions allowed up to 10,000 addresses to be imported at one time. This hard coded limit has been removed.


The Back / Forward feature is back

Earlier versions had Back/Forward buttons. Those buttons have been removed, but the functionality is still present, and it can be accessed either by going to the View menu, as shown on the above picture, or by using keyboard shortcuts Alt+ LeftArrow and Alt+RightArrow.

Rename Route Stops
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush

Rename route stops

Rename Route Stops is a relatively minor new feature, but it can potentially add a lot of 'usability' to route planning. Thanks for that MSFT.
Pause Windows Media Player during spoken navigation instructions.

Configure the program to turn off your music while voice instructions are spoken. This is an excellent feature, and I wish all other GPS navigation software products would have it. Actually, at the moment I cannot think of any that does!

Perhaps a future enhancement of this functionality could include the muting of all sound sources, not just be limited to controlling Windows Media Player.

Improved discoverability of "Click 'n' Drag Routing" feature

Originally Posted by Gladwin

This feature was always there in the product but now has been given some cool UI changes for easy discoverability.
  1. Move your cursor over the route you want to change. The cursor changes to a small hand when it is positioned over the route.

    Click 'n' Drag Routing - 1
  2. Click and hold the segment of the route where you want the new stop, and then drag the cursor to the location where you want to add the new stop. A dotted line stretches from the current route to wherever you drag.

    Click 'n' Drag Routing - 2
  3. Release the mouse button. Your route snaps, or is redrawn, to include the new stop, and subsequent stops are renumbered.

    Click 'n' Drag Routing - 3
Microsoft AutoRoute 2010 with GPS Locator

New USB GPS Locator

If you have a USB (or Bluetooth) GPS receiver that has worked well with an earlier version of Microsoft AutoRoute, then save yourself money, and buy only the software program. However, if you do need a GPS receiver for your laptop, it may be convenient to buy the Microsoft bundle that included the "GPS Locator". This year the included unit is the one depicted on the above photo. It is Navation GPS 168, and it is based on uBlox 5 chip. it works well, but do use the included USB GPS extension cable. Otherwise, if the unit is plugged directly into your laptop computer, there may be RF interference preventing the GPS stick from working satisfactorily.

Related information

Forum - Share experiences with other AutoRoute users
Tips & Tricks - A collection of tips and tricks by many users and from many sources

Questions? Comments?
Thanks for your insightful review. I am going to London tomorrow and I'll give it a try on the ground. I am glad that it looks and feels so similar to Microsoft Streets and Trips 2010.
Early impressions.

First, to repeat, the interface is the same as S&T 2010 which is overall a very good thing.

I immediately appreciate the fact that the London Congestion Charge zone is coloured differently (and identified as such in the Legend) on the four (I think) lowest zoom levels. It is important to know that because it costs 8GBP (+/- $13) per day to operate a vehicle within that zone weekdays. And if you neglect to pay it, it ramps up to a 45GBP fine or something ludicrous. The zone is to be avoided but it is not exactly intuitive or always well-marked; so thanks for highlghting MSFT. An unfamiliar driver can easily recoup the cost of the app with a few 'saves' in this department. Obviously, one could take things a step further by marking his or her route with the "Avoid Area" function to overlap with the zone parameters.

I can see also many more POIs (and they seem accurate) in the vicinity of my flat here than was the case for 2007.

One small demerit, however. Tom-Tom seems to be the dominant in-car nav vendor here. I looked at one site (Shell Oil UK) in the hope of downloading their station POIs. While they have such a thing, it is only formatted in Tom-Tom-friendly code. So, the Data Import Wizard cannot cope with it. The built-in POIs of AR 2010 for petrol stations seem pretty good, at least for the Shell stations I know. Therefore, I would like the Data Wizard enhanced to be able to cope with "ov2" formatted data bases.

All for now...
Ken in Regina
If you have access to an internet connection you can use the GPS Babel Online form to convert TomTom OV2 format to something you can use in AR.

GPS Visualizer: Web interface to GPSBabel

Gladwin and I just created a Free POI: Microsoft AutoRoute 2010 Mega File. It makes me wish I was on vacation in the UK!

There are lots of resources for EUR POI collections on the web here are a few I found:

Motorhome Parking - PoI Download Page
GPS Data Team
Archie’s Camping
Marvin Hlavac
SpadesFlush and I have discussed POIs for AR just before he left for the UK. I bet he will be the very first one to download it.
Thanks for that, Larry. I will play with it a bit.
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
If you have access to an internet connection you can use the GPS Babel Online form to convert TomTom OV2 format to something you can use in AR.

GPS Visualizer: Web interface to GPSBabel

Thanks, Ken, I was completely unaware of that utility. It worked just fine for the Shell UK station POIs.
I still would like the Data Wizard to handle .ov2 files.
Thanks Marvin for the info'

My iGuidance Europe is way way outdated. It is still in my pda ASUS.

And the feel of S&T is familiar . That comes in handy if I have enough money for another W Europe trip

Marvin Hlavac
AXE files (AutoRoute files) can now be uploaded to this site as attachments. Thanks to SpadesFlush for the suggestion. If the allocated 5MB size is not sufficient, please let me know and I will increase it.

Daniel, yeah, the European version of iGuidance is now a few years old. It's a pity iNav discontinued it.
Attached Images
Thanks for that, Marvin.

See attachment for Shell UK pushpins on AutoRoute map.
Attached Files
File Type: axe Shell Stations.axe (496.0 KB)
Just had a quick look at version 2010 and my local petrol station is still showing but flats have been on the site for a least 2 years!

In France the A19 just north of Orleans to Les Bretons has been open a while but has NOT been enabled in AR2010.

Transmarck near Calais road to "All4Trucks" is not there either.

Come on Microsoft keep your UPDATES up to date! I will support you by buying the product but not if its so far out of date.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Ossie!

Long time no see!

IMHO it takes on average 2 to 3 years for any change to appear in navigable maps, no matter what product. Online maps, which may update more frequently than software sold on DVDs, may have updates a bit sooner. Printed maps are the first to show new streets, but mapping software has more features.

The best Microsoft can do is to license map data from the most reliable map data provider(s), and that has been done.
I have opened a route (attached) that I did 30 months ago in AR2007 and I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to see how it fared in AR 2010.

The one thing that pops out most is the richer POIs that are built into 2010. Most of the places I went to were not even shown in 2007, whereas they all were in 2010. Even AR 2007 was pretty good on the roads I drove. This is not necessarily a good sample, however; it is just what I have done. There are still some oddities, however. AR 2010 has a distinct bias to using the Eurotunnel, for instance. It will go so far as to suggest you make a U-turn mid-Channel to go back and take the Eurotunnel if you insert a waypoint on the ferry cross-Channel route. No thank you.

In a sense, this is more of an upgrade than S&T users are used to. Starting with the jump from 2007 to 2010 that feels quite material. But the big catch-up in POIs is quite impressive.
Attached Files
File Type: axe Rotterdam May 2007c.axe (208.0 KB)
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