Microsoft Buys Online Mapping Service

Microsoft has acquired UK-based European online mapping service provider Multimap for an undisclosed sum.

Multimap provides online maps, point-to-point driving directions and geo-spatial (“where’s my nearest?”) searches to businesses and consumers in Europe.

Besides free mapping services for consumers, Multimap offers location-based services such as mapping, proximity searching, routing, aerial images with map overlay, local information and weather to businesses.

Microsoft executives hope that besides complementing the company’s existing offerings such as Virtual Earth, Live Search, Windows Live services, MSN and the aQuantive advertising platform, the new location and mapping technology can also integrate with other Microsoft products and platforms.

Multimap will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, as part of the Virtual Earth and Search teams in the Online Services Group.

Historically weak on the online side of its business as compared to its operating system and Office software, Microsoft has been desperately playing catch up with more nimble players like Google, Facebook and MySpace.

In an effort to gain greater traction in the Internet space, Microsoft recently invested $240 million for a tiny stake in Facebook.

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