MapPoint can take users in new directions

Microsoft Corp. has released a 2004 version of its MapPoint graphing software that's loaded with new geographic and demographic data.

The updates mesh with the 2002 geographic boundaries from map data providers Geographic Data Technology Inc. of Lebanon, N.H., and Navigational Technologies of Chicago. Microsoft has also added the most recent Census Bureau demographic figures and doubled the number of business listings to 1.4 million.

'You can create very complex, custom queries,' said Andrew Mackles, product manager of the MapPoint group business unit.

Microsoft had donated 400 licenses to NASA to map out the trail of debris that fell from the Columbia explosion in February. 'We have a few agencies who have purchased this,' Mackles said.

The latest MapPoint version can send real-time information wirelessly to an expanded variety of Global Positioning Satellite devices, including those that support the National Marine Electronics Association 2.0 protocol or later.

The software can run under Microsoft Windows 98 on systems with at minimum a Pentium II processor and 64M of RAM.

MapPoint sells for $299; upgraders get a $50 discount.

Users can order a 60-day trial license for $17.90.

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