Since Sunday, visitors to Bing Streetside wanting to look at 360 degree photos of German street scenes have been greeted with the message “Streetside is not available here.”
Microsoft has since confirmed rumours that its Google Street View clone had been shut down in order to deal with a number of complaints from German users who were unsatisfied with the way the US company had dealt with their requests to have their houses blurred out.
“Since we take the privacy and data protection of our customers very seriously we have decided to turn off the Streetside Beta-Service in Germany and work on a solution that suits everybody,” Microsoft Germany spokesman Thomas Baumgärtner wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
After initially refusing to do so, Microsoft promised to make it easy for people to request their homes and property be pixilated in August last year, showing itself more sensitive to Germans' privacy concerns than rivals Google.
But fewer Germans have contacted Microsoft to obscure their property in the photos than Google, Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday.
When Street View was introduced amid a storm of protest in 2010, 250,000 Germans requested their houses be blurred out, whereas only 80,000 have done so on Streetside so far.
Microsoft has said the service will return to Germany as soon as the problems are solved.
“We want to put the service back online as quickly as possible,” said Baumgärtner on Wednesday.
Microsoft cars fitted with cameras – which have been photographing the fronts of German houses, businesses and office blocks for the past year – are continuing their work, said Baumgärtner, and are currently in Cologne.