Talking of Google Earth and its wannabe rivals, Microsoft is now pushing its Virtual Earth online mapping and search services using Google-like bird’s eye satellite imagery as the best way to buy or sell your property.

In 2005, there were approximately 1.5 million residential property transactions in the UK, with a total value of £255 billion and an average of eight buyers competing for every property available on the market.

Anyone who lives in London will know how difficult it is to locate affordable houses and flats, but that's half the fun of house hunting. Now Microsoft wants us off the streets and in front of our PCs zooming about and peering into other people's gardens.

But was today the best day to announce this new venture, with interest rates hitting a six-year high?