By Vamien McKalin | Dec 20, 2012 03:20 PM EST
After five years of tracking Santa with Google, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) has taken the bold step to switch from Google Maps to Microsoft Bing Maps to track the big guy's movement this Christmas eve.
It is not known why NORAD gave Google Maps the boot, for all we know, Microsoft may have persuaded NORAD in some secret meeting months ago to give Bing Maps a shot at tracking Santa instead of Google Maps. What is known, however, is that NORAD and Google ended their partnership on a mutual note.
The move from Google seems to be very beneficial for NORAD, as the company plans to release its own Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Android Santa tracker applications. In the years with Google, NORAD didn't have any applications to push, the only option was to direct users to search for Santa via Google Maps.
Santa tracking on Bing Maps is good for Microsoft, as it will no doubt raise awareness of Microsoft applications. However, if Microsoft was planning to one up Google this holiday season, the plan has only worked partially since it appears Google was preparing for this day.
Instead of bowing out completely, Google is planning its own Santa tracker project aiming to undermine NORAD and Microsoft's effort. The Web site comes with a virtual village in the North Pole that serves as Santa's workshop, hidden in and around the workshop are mini games called Jetpack, Racer, and Present Drop, all of which can be played within the browser.
It remains to be seen if Google can draw in more viewers than NORAD and Microsoft come Dec. 24. NORAD has been doing this for the past 62 years, Google will have its work cut out if the company is seriously thinking about dethroning the Santa tracking champion.