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Are giants, knocking the business GIS door?

Maneesh Prasad
Director, CSDMS
Email : [email protected]

The use GIS as mainstream analytical tool is gaining importance. The “Windows Reveloution” coupled with high speed conputing facility available on PCs made the complex and high end machine dependent GIS, a user friendly desktop mapping and analysing tool. Predominantly ruled by ESRI, Intergraph, Autodesk and MapInfo and other client specific GIS software developers, it has now becoming hunting ground for software majors like Microsoft and SAP AG.

Exciting! Yes.

The Microsoft’s journey in the quest of business GIS which started with Exel 5.0, which had elementary mapping feature called Dynamap, is now reaching it’s milestone. Build on the success of Expdia Streets 98, build for consumer users, MapPoint 2000 has been developed with business users in mind.

The functionality of MapPoint includes finding virtually any street address in US, creating and annotating maps which can be imported into Office documents, plotting database information and analysing business and demographic information. It will be an ideal business mapping companion to Microsoft Office and useful to anyone who wants to locate business information on the map or analyse geographic aspects of their business. MapPoint has four years of demographic data for 1980, 1999, and 2003. The data includes population household sizes, household income, median pupulation age and population by age.

Microsoft plans to make all these available for USD $109, the price at which it is difficult to get any digital data in India, less to talk about any GIS engine. The pricing of this product is revolutionary, especially for small and medium sized business and mapping communities. Besides this, office compatibility is also being cited as the key. The GIS user base is set to wide, the nature of growth which till now was more or less vertical will from now see a horizontal growth. Microsoft plans to launch MapPoint for United Kingdom as it’s first international version, with other European countries to follow.