What’s Still Broken with Windows Live Local

Windows Live Local has had some minor tweaks lately, printing is working pretty good, the Celebrity Favorite Places is a bit gimmicky, but interesting.  Overall, the service is awesome, but I still have several gripes that I’ll outline here.

  1. Zoom functionality on slow links.  I complained about this before, and it’s still a problem.  Force some of your testers to run over higher-latency, medium bandwidth links, or maybe even dialup.  The dynamic zoom effect is a nice idea, but after it reaches the target zoom level, the entire viewing area goes black while it loads in the tiles at the new resolution.  This is unnecessary and distracting.
  2. Image Context.  Give me some way to find out when the image was taken.  For mapping geeks, you might even give us the source sensor type.  I’d love to be able to right-click and see that this image tile came from SPOT-3 in 1996, whereas another was an aerial ortho photo from 2003.  Very different levels of relevance.
  3. Never tell me you don’t have imagery at this zoom level.  You let me click the zoom control, so either scale up the lower resolution tiles, or don’t let me zoom in the first place.  This is my biggest pet peeve that seems to span all the modern mapping services.
  4. Description boxes for Places and Pushpins obscure close-up details.  When I’m looking at a map, I often follow the places I’m looking at with the mouse cursor.   As I hover over a place marker, the details box pops up and obscures what I’m looking at. I’d rather see the following behavior:  Require more than an instant of hover before you pop up the details, maybe 300ms.  After the details pop, if I move my mouse away, fade the details to 90% transparent, or fade them away entirely.  Add a pushpin control next to the ‘X’ to let users make them stick.

That’s it for now…

Update:  Wow, a major update just went live on Live Local.  It looks like they have partially addressed #4.  Numbers 1 through 3 still apply.