Google has announced that Google Earth Pro, once priced at an eye-watering $399 a year, is now available for free.
Advanced extras include the ability to measure 3D buildings, print higher resolution images or save them as PDFs, or use a Movie Maker tool to record HD video animations of your tours around the world.
You will still need to get a licence before you can install the program by filling in this form. The URL refers to a free trial, but that’s a leftover, the program really is free. (And while the registration form asks for your phone number, it doesn’t appear to care if you enter a single digit, instead.)
Once the preparations are complete, and you’ve agreed to the download conditions, downloading and running the small setup program will equip your system with Google Earth Pro within a few seconds.
We tried installing the build on a PC with a regular Google Earth version and had no problems. Setup completed normally, we launched the Pro version and it picked up and used our current “My Places”.
Could we switch back to the standard version, if necessary? We couldn’t run the regular and Pro editions at the same time, which was no great surprise (presumably they’re sharing plenty of resources). But if you close one edition then you can run the other, as normal.
Finally, we uninstalled our previous standard Google Earth and found the Pro version continued to work as usual.
Once you’ve got past the registration procedure, then, Google Earth Pro seems like a hassle-free way to get high-resolution printing/ PDF and HD movie support. Go grab your free copy before Google changes its mind.