CNET wrote a piece last week about how the next Microsoft desktop operating system, Windows 7 is going to incorporate location directly into the OS:
Well, at a low level, Microsoft has a new application programming interface (API) for sensors and a second API for location. It uses any of a number of things to actually get the location, depending on what’s available. Obviously there’s GPS, but it also supports Wi-Fi and cellular triangulation. At a minimum. Users can type in their location if they really want location-based services and don’t have any of those other sensors.
Applications can then use that longitude and latitude information to provide any number of services to the customer, of which mapping is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of those applications will be up to developers, though. The only location-based service in the current Windows 7 OS itself is the fact that the weather gadget will use your location, assuming you have such services available and turned on.
I was talking a little bit last night to some folks at Microsoft about 7 and location. Cell-tower, GPS or WiFi triangulation (and/or other methodologies) could be used to find location.
Regardless, what this illustrates is that location will be much more deeply integrated and available online “going forward,” whether it’s in the browser or directly in the OS. It would then become available to third parties through APIs in all these various scenarios.