Microsoft beat out Google to provide its digital mapping technology for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to Microsoft, EPA will use Virtual Earth mapping technology to improve data sharing, analysis and insight for partner agencies, citizens and nongovernmental organizations on topics ranging from water and air quality to disaster relief.

"We wanted to get our feet wet with the technology, without spending a fortune," Pat Garvey, a technology manager for the EPA, said in an interview. "The Google offering didn't seem to be as sharp, and Microsoft offered us unlimited use for one year."
EPA officials also said they selected Virtual Earth over Google Earth in part because Virtual Earth offers a unique, 45-degree viewing angle on its maps. The agreement is a win for Microsoft, which is battling Google to attract more users to use its digital maps product.