It's been a short time since Microsoft announced the release of Bing, their next generation search platform (with its own Bing API). Along with the name change, several of Microsoft's product offerings have also rebranded, including two core mapping products: Live Search Maps and Virtual Earth. This means that Virtual Earth API will be no more -- it is now officially called the Bing Maps API (we've added a new Bing Maps API profile).
As part of the Bing Launch, Microsoft has rebranded Live Search Maps to Bing Maps and Virtual Earth to Bing Maps for Enterprise. As Chris Pendleton, former writer of "Virtual Earth, an Evangelist's Blog" and now writer of the Bing Maps Blog, explains, the rebranding entails a bit more than just a name change:
Well, Bing Maps is pretty much the same, but we did get the new logo and image captions of what's on Bing.com's home page. Oh, and the URL is now bing.com/maps; however, more importantly, there are other Bing properties that are implementing Bing Maps in a variety of ways.
A search for Rubio's near San Diego, CA provides the 10 closest locations with a nice little inset map pinpointing where they are. In fact, if you just search for San Diego, you can use the list of topics down the left-hand side to continue to narrow in on the information you need for San Diego - Attractions, Weather, Map, Hotels, Events, or Images. Clicking "Map" link will provide you with a small overview map of San Diego. And, Image results are really cool since you can get images of San Diego; but, by clicking the "show map" link, you also get an overview map of where images have been geotagged and a Bird's Eye image right in the search results. If you get into the Local Search results, you'll see a larger map with the ability to select "1-click directions" which is just that - 1-click and you get directions from the 4 cardinal directions to the place in which you're interested.
According to Chris, we can expect to see Bing Maps proliferate across Bing (and Microsoft) properties over time. There is a video on the Bing Maps Blog that includes an interview with Erik Jorgensen, Corporate VP of MSN, discussing some of the changes included in the rebranding.
In terms of the development tools and APIs available via Virtual Earth, these are all still available, although the branding has changed for those services as well. You can check out our new Bing Maps API summary and our older Virtual Earth API profile will soon redirect to that new Bing Maps API profile as starting points; Microsoft has also migrated the old Virtual Earth developers portal, although it looks like the rebranding is still underway for some elements. A PDF with some FAQs for the migration is also available.