Microsoft is launching its own version of Google’s StreetView – dubbed Streetside – across Europe.
Cars fitted with cameras have begun taking pictures around London and will start mapping major cities on the continent next month.
The service is already available in 56 US towns and cities.
Microsoft has been keen to avoid the privacy concerns that dogged Google’s service but said that it does plan to gather wi-fi data.
Initially, Streetside will be on a smaller scale than Streetview, according to the company’s director of search, Dave Coplin.
“We’re not setting out to record every street. We believe it is most valuable in urban centres where people want to find services,” he told BBC News.
Microsoft’s ultimate aim was to combine Streetside with location-based services, Mr Coplin explained.
To do that, it needed to collect wi-fi data, such as the unique number that identifies the location of a hotspot.=, the signal strength and the type of wireless signal being used. That information would be used to help locate users.
Google ran into trouble with privacy groups while creating Streetview after it emerged the company intercepted and stored private information from some hotspots.
Google apologised for the “mistake” which it blamed on rogue coding.
The incident led to investigations around the globe and forced the search giant to make radical changes to its privacy policies.
By contrast Microsoft said that it would collect the “bare minimum” of data.
It has already started taking street level photographs, however the wi-fi scanning portion of the process is currently on hold until the company refines its strategy.
“We took the decision to postpone wi-fi data collection. We’d like to do it the right way,” said Dave Coplin.
Read More/Source: BBC News