Both Ed Parsons and Jeff Thurston give us a quick look at the new ESRI ArcGIS Explorer at the 20th ESRI European User Conference. I’m not one to use the word “Google Earth Killer” until I’ve played with it, but both Ed says:

ArcGIS Explorer will be a free 15Mb download from the ESRI website and will connect to a dedicated ArcWeb server farm at ESRI providing an experience similar to Google Earth, although I was not clear where the imagery is sourced from. What got me excited however, is the ability of ArcGIS Explorer to use other data services including OGC WMS and WFS servers and any ArcIMS server you may already use. ArcGIS can also display local data, File GDB’s,shape files, most image formats and even KML files from your PC’s hard drive.

Rather than the small controlled demo at the 2005 UC, this demo was of the actual product and it appears that it has impressed many GIS professionals. Jeff says:

You are going to love this. This is a 2nd generation GIS product that is Google Maps, Google Earth, Virtual Earth and World Wind and more. ESRI has taken a major leap “a revolutionary leap” into the viewer exploration world.

It is one thing to say that ArcGIS Explorer is a Google Earth competitor, but it would seem that ArcGIS Explorer will change the way people use GIS. I can’t wait to see it.