For a long time now, I've been using mapquest.com for maps of places I am going to. I have no real complaints with it, so I haven't been looking to see what else there is. Sure, it's a little annoying that I have to click Maps when I first get there if I want a Canadian map, and then there's a really annoying refresh when you choose Canada and it changes State to Province, which can wipe out everything you typed if you're on a slow line, but those are pretty minor, really.
Last night Dwayne was talking about Mappoint Location Server, which is an enterprise-focused technology for seeing where your people or deliveries or whatnot are, using a map, but of course he showed a lot of Mappoint maps along the way. And you know what? They're nice-looking. Really nice-looking.
So tonight someone phoned me to ask where a particular building was, and said Mapquest couldn't find the address she gave it. (Turned out she was spelling the street incorrectly so no marks off to Mapquest on that.) I tried Mappoint and -wow! These are beautiful maps that get more beautiful as you drill in.
It felt a little more dial-up friendly, too. The printable map is especially nice. Mapquest reduces the amount of chrome when you go for a printable map, but not to zero. At least for now the printable Mappoint map is pretty much chrome-free. I tried a few places where the streets are denser (downtown Toronto) and liked that, too.
For now it seems to be North America only, so I'll use MapQuest for my Europe planning. Up to now I've been using a 40 year old atlas for that, which is working fine really since London, Paris, Venice etc tend not to move around and I only need to know things like how far apart they are. Sooner or later I'll want a touch more detail, and Internet maps are perfect for that.
[Update Sept 23rd: Europe is in there. I'm a 100% Mappoint girl now...]