Now this one ought to be quite interesting. Microsoft just bought out Caligari, maker of the 3D modeling, animating and rendering software TrueSpace. Is this a new, free SketchUp in the making? Microsoft wants to use the software for their Virtual Earth platform – similar to Google using SketchUp for their Google Earth platform. This also would perfectly fit into Microsoft’s current "I wanna be Google" expansion ambitions – see the recent Yahoo offer for additional reading on this.
Caligari interestingly used a forum post to announce this. An excerpt of Roman Ormandy’s post is:
"You know me and my ambitions for trueSpace and web-based 3D collaboration. Let me tell you right away that there were no compromises I had to make to accommodate our vision within the Virtual Earth platform, in fact I was challenged to increase the scope of our vision. I talked to many people at Virtual Earth group and I am convinced that the technical team behind Virtual Earth has a significant, long-term commitment to the 3D Web."
Let’s see if I can still find @last’s SketchUpdate where they announced their acquisition. Ah, there it is… (thanks to Google’s Desktop Search). In their March 14, 2006 newsletter, Brad of @Last/Google disspells any fears in these words:
"I can’t stress this enough: the 3D world just got a huge boost, so please don’t worry about SketchUp or our mission. Think about it this way: we haven’t traded in the Honda for a Porsche; we’ve strapped a rocket to the Honda. SketchUp is still SketchUp, but now it will go places it couldn’t possibly have gone before."
And there you have it. Similar software, similar purpose. Only difference: Google has a great tradition of giving out free software, Microsoft in most cases has not. So let’s wait and see what happens. Until then, let’s keep enjoying this fantastic software SketchUp!