Microsoft has launched listings and street maps for India, powered by the Microsoft Virtual Earth platform, and with map data from Navteq and the Goverment of India.

In India, the service has street level data for 9 cities, business listings across 29 cities and highway networks to 20,000 cities and towns. Try out the internet version at http://maps.live.co.in and mobile version at http://m.live.co.in

It’s important to note that while, last year, Microsoft had signed “multi-year deal” with Navteq, Navteq itself was acquired by Nokia. This puts Nokia and Microsoft in an interesting competitive situation – since Nokia has its own plans for Navteq, particularly around local information, perhaps extending to location based services. Navteq had launched Maps for India last year.

Comparison of various players in the maps/GIS space in India

I tried out the map service online, and was quite impressed with the driving directions, and the integration of the directions with the map. However, do remember that in India, directions are largely based on landmarks, rather than street names. Microsoft would do well to add landmarks to the directions.

Two other GIS companies that offer driving directions in India – Yahoo India (maps powered by MapMyIndia), which also has Maps in local languages. The other is RouteGuru which provides directions both online and via SMS for Delhi, and also SMS’ the approximate auto rickshaw fare. Google also has a Maps service live both online and on mobile in India, with data collected from users.

So a large number of players in the maps space…but is there sufficient demand for all of them?

Note: Live Search Maps covers the following cities

— Addresses, roads, localities, landmarks, & places of interest across 9 Indian cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, and Jaipur.
— Business listings across 29 Indian cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Agra, Allahabad, Amritsar, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Kanpur, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mangalore, Nagpur, Nasik, Patiala, Patna, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara and Vishakapatnam.

Update: Pluggd.in had apparently reported this launch last month.