Microsoft has combined its Virtual Earth and Photosynth platforms for the first time in a move to radically improve the functionality of both systems for users.

The announcement today will give website owners the ability to place Photosynth applications into their own embedded maps, using either their own imagery or drawing from existing photos in the Photosynth library.

Until now travel mapping was primarily restricted to standard charts, aerial/satellite views, and placing of images into pin-pointed boxes.

Both Google (via Google Maps) and Microsoft (Virtual Earth) were doing this as well as could be expected given the technology, allowing travel firms to embed maps into websites. Google took things to the next stage recently with its controversial Streetview project. And now Microsoft’s fantastic Photosynth platform will be available for everyone to play with.

In the next few months I think we are going to see some major updates to travel websites all using this new combination from Microsoft. Will Google be far behind?