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Late yesterday Microsoft unveiled a new-and-improved "Version 2" of its Live Maps, which claims to better render in 3D only four cities thus far: Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix and Dallas. Says Microsoft of its Virtual Earth experience: "Cities now have thousands more buildings than before especially noticeable as you move from a city core out to its suburbs. It all adds up to make Virtual Earth much less virtual and takes us a large step closer to delivering a truly impressive mirror world experience." Or, there's always going outside. Because I've spent the last way too long virtually touring the city (the thing is slow, once you've downloaded the program), and Microsoft's version is still even more flat and fugly than the real thing. Except downtown looks awfully nice. --Robert Wilonsky