Like CD-based encyclopedias, Microsoft's traditionally sold mapping products, MapPoint and Streets & Trips, had their time in the sun. But with users increasingly accessing location information through online services on mobile devices, these products no longer make sense. So Microsoft is retiring both.
The good news? There is already an impressive replacement available in Bing Maps. And it's available in mobile app form—and backed by incredible Nokia HERE Maps technology—on both Windows 8.x and Windows Phone.
News of the retirement of MapPoint and Streets & Trips comes courtesy of Brad Sams over at Neowin, who noticed that both products had received "end of life" notifications on their respective web sites. A moment of silence, please.
MapPoint was the underlying technology for Streets & Trips, which could be purchased in retail packaging with a hardware (and USB-based) GPS unit. Coincidentally, I'm in Quebec as I write this, and the last time we were here about 10 years ago, we drove and used Streets & Trips with this device on a laptop. MapPoint was also packaged so application developers could use it in their own solutions.
Streets & Trips will be supported through the end of 2015. But given the rise in smart phone usage—well over 1.2 billion units this year alone—each of which comes with integrated GPS and available high quality mapping solutions from Google or Microsoft/Nokia, the need for standalone solutions—including hardware GPS units—has been dwindling for years. (Users of the iPhone are free to use Apple Maps if they like getting lost.)
On the Microsoft side of the fence, Bing Maps is generally excellent and includes downloadable maps for offline use. And on Windows Phone, you can use the integrated functionality in Nokia Maps, or the Local Scout feature in Bing Maps, to find anything you need locally or in other locations.