Microsoft has just announced that it is to buy Multimap, the UK-based mapping company. It seems Microsoft found the lure of new mapping technology too difficult to resist. Not only that, but Microsoft has bought a firm that's used to making hard cash out of mapping, unlike the rather weak Windows Live Map offering which lags behind Multimap's market share in the UK. Google is ahead of both.

Multimap has struck crucial deals with organisations such as the Ordinance Survey as well to use its mapping as part of a Web 2.0-style site. Previously, organisations such as the OS would simply charge per view of their maps. However, with draggable maps the one-view-per-page model no longer works.

Online mapping services

"The addition of Multimap enhances Microsoft's position as a leading provider of mapping and location platform services," said Sharon Baylay, general manager of the Online Services Group at Microsoft.

"This acquisition will play a significant role in the future growth of our search business and presents a huge opportunity to expand our platform business beyond the UK and globally. We are thrilled to welcome Multimap onboard."

Of course, the move also gives Microsoft the potential to use Multimap's mapping tech elsewhere. "Partnering with Microsoft gives us a world of new opportunities to build our mapping services into new technologies and applications," said Jeff Kelisky, CEO of Multimap. He must be laughing all the way to the bank. Sums remain undisclosed though The Times estimates the cost at around £50 million