The success of services like Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth have reinvigorated the public interest in geography through satellite imagery, but you will usually have to open a program or visit your web browser to access these tools. With the MVWorldviewer 1.4.1 you can get an overview of the entire planet posted straight to your desktop background, providing you with an up to date look at how the various weather systems are influencing our blue and green earth.
As well as showing cloud placement mapped minutely and updated automatically every ten minutes, the MVWorldviewer software will display information on where earthquakes and storms have hit, where daylight is falling and where night is still in progress. In addition it will display the forecast for your own location which will be convenient if you want to know what the weather is going to be like without heading to a meteorological website.
While MVWorldviewer will automatically refresh the map of the world that is posted as your desktop wallpaper every ten minutes, you can update it manually with greater frequency if you access the menu bar. This will cause an hourglass to appear to let you know that it is seeking an update and on receiving it the previous image will be replaced.
MVWorldviewer uses data from various well respected sources to produce the maps. It receives information from NASA and it also uses the Xplanet Project to determine the movement of clouds and weather systems. The earthquake information is perhaps the most eye-opening aspect of this software, as the colour-coded placement of earthquakes will let you know not only where but also when they occurred. Red earthquakes are only hours old while orange represents those which occurred earlier in the day. Magnitude is registered for those quakes which occurred in the recent past and it provides a fascinating insight into the volatile nature of our world.
At the moment the weather forecast for your location, which is positioned lower left, will only cover those cities located within the United States. This is a pity for international users who want to get the forecast, but given the other capabilities of this software, it might be something that you can overlook.
The MVWorldviewer is accompanied by a status bar and desktop icon, but once you have entered the preferences you can enable it to run passively with these items obscured, while assigning a hotkey that will enable you to view the map undisturbed in fullscreen mode. This means it can be kept in the background and then examined in more detail if something catches your eye.
The map can be customised to suit your requirements, with the option to alter the central latitude and longitude, so that your location is kept in view at all times. You can also add multiple other cities to keep under your gaze, but this is where the slightly clunky interface might stifle the attempts of the less technically able. You cannot select cities from a list, but must rather pinpoint them via latitude and longitude which you have to enter manually. This is another minor issue with MVWorldviewer, but on the whole, this is an interesting, comprehensive piece of software.