It seems to me that the designers in charge of Virtual Earth were the same ones who did XP. Come to think of it, no. XP is far more pretty than Virtual Earth. I am looking forward to MSN Earth Version 3 developed in flickrTime that actually is fun to look at and use. 1.0 is certainly neither. But it's useful (if you are so locked in the trunk you don't know about Google Maps).
As you no doubt read this morning, Microsoft released its response to Google Maps-MSN Virtual Earth. While I dig the aerial photos and topographical look-and-feel, it's a Canada free zone. The screenshot shows the 49th parallel at Blaine, where our nation appears as a strip of white frozen north. Beyond that, according to the icons, photography isn't permitted in Canada. So, not so much a 'virtual Earth' as a 'virtual country'.
First to market usually wins, and I'm sticking with Google Maps until MSN demonstrates they're compelling enough to make me switch. A good start would be actually including my country. This was my initial complaint about Google Maps as well, so hopefully they'll sort it out in short order.