TechCrunch's Michael Arrington cited "a source close to Microsoft," predicting today that MS "will launch a desktop software called WorldWide Telescope" next week. The idea is that you'd download an application -- sorta like Google Earth -- but instead of looking down, you're looking up. The app would draw from Hubble data as well as data from other earthbound telescopes. You'd be able to "zoom as far in to any one direction as the data will allow."
This is pretty exciting. Those of you who've spent time with a telescope can attest to the fact that they're pretty difficult to handle -- and don't produce anything on the order of the beauty you can see from the big 'uns. Not that smaller 'scopes aren't incredibly cool. It's just that it's awfully hard to get people interested in 'em at the start. I'd guess that this would be just the ticket.
(Thanks, xamad, for the great CC-licensed photo.)
Microsoft To Announce WorldWide Telescope On Feb. 27 [TechCrunch]