Is this Christmas holiday going to be a Google or Microsoft one for Santa? And what's NORAD got to do with it anyway?
I don't know about you, but I find it kind of odd the way NORAD tracks Santa every year. In case you don't know, NORAD is the North American Aerospace Defense Command and it usually spends its time looking for dangerous incursions into air space and possibly setting off a nuclear retaliation if an incoming ICMB is indentified. Now think for a moment, these are the guys tracking Santa...
Whatever the purpose of keeping a strategic eye on Santa, in past few years it has been Google supplying the mapping. But this year it is Bing Maps, i.e. Microsoft, that is doing the plotting. It is said to be a mutual agreement and not anything that was wrong with Google's efforts. Whatever the reason, Microsoft won the contract and it is the official Santa tracker this year.
However, Google isn't about to be left out - I thought this was a mutual agreement? Google is also going to be tracking Santa and we can only hope that NORAD/Microsoft and Google can manage to agree on where Santa is, otherwise some techno-savvy children might just discover the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle early.
Google says, without hint of being left out:
"While we’ve been tracking Santa since 2004 with Google Earth, this year a team of dedicated Google Maps engineers built a new route algorithm to chart Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve. On his sleigh, arguably the fastest airborne vehicle in the world, Santa whips from city to city delivering presents to millions of homes. You’ll be able to follow him on Google Maps and Google Earth, and get his stats starting at 2:00 a.m. PST Christmas Eve at google.com/santatracker."
The NORAD/Microsoft effort starts at 2 a.m. Eastern Time so they don't quite fit together.
Both teams are doing quite a lot for Santa. NORAD and Microsoft have apps ready to download for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Android and iOS. So it isn't just a Microsoft party.
However, if you want to follow NORAD/Microsoft Santa on the web using in the best possible 3D, you will need to use either Firefox or Chrome because Microsoft's IE is so primitive that it only does Santa in 2D. This is something of an embarrassment, but if Microsofties all over the world discover that there is something that has to be put right with IE, and very soon, then perhaps the effort will not have been wasted.
The Google tracking team have made an Android app and a Chrome plugin for you to use, and for the full 3D experience use Google Earth.
Let us hope it all goes smoothly and the usual 25 million people plus get to follow Santa using either Google or Microsoft mapping.
We have to give thanks that NORAD didn't team up with Apple Maps....