No not that kind of drive by – this kind of drive by.
The MSN Virtual Earth team loaded up a van with 10 cameras and photographed street level images for San Francisco and Seattle. You can preview the street level navigation right now. The images are decent quality and there are different types of layouts available (check out the “Street” view of the map). The controls are a bit awkward and the application isn’t quite smooth as Google Maps or Yahoo Maps, but street level images are obviously the next step in all these map applications. Your location is represented by a mini car on the road. (Hold shift and use arrow keys to move your car around)
If you have about 30 minutes to spare, you can watch the Virtual Earth StreetLevel video over at Channel 9.