I've always been impressed with GE's speed over the internet compared to what traditional GIS software can do when viewing terrains with local data. Do you think with Mfd 9's speed, this may change significantly?
In a word, yes. Two things to keep in mind:
1. When you are viewing a 3D view generated by GE you are looking at a scene created by a single thread in a single core of a processor in a not-very-powerful computer. Google distributes storage, and it dispatches sessions from individual people in a sophisticated time-sharing strategy to one of very, very many computers sitting in Google racks somewhere, but each of those time-shared slices is not parallel. The primary speed gain with Google arises from distributed storage.
2. What Google shows you is an approximation watered down to the number of pixels tossed at the screen you use. It is designed to look OK to the human eye, with no claim to being accurate. Cutting that corner can save a lot of computation. GIS people typically want some basis to think that what they see has some claim to accuracy beyond just looking good. If you create a 3D view for a zoning presentation you want to be able to say, "Yes, I have reason to believe this proposed structure will or will not be visible from this location...".
Parallel processing helps with accurate views without having to cut too many corners as with 2. Local storage on SSD and having ample, cheap, local memory for plenty of local cache helps with 1. 9 is much faster than 8 with big raster images, and that same architecture will also help 9 to be much faster with 3D views of synthetic terrain, draped with imagery and so on, when those features show up.
I don't mean any of the above as a criticism of Google. I like their 3D views and wish they had them in more places than they do. Good for them they do this.
Speaking of locations and 3D views, an obvious thing for locations is to extend the notion to invocation of location-related external services. One can imagine all sorts of things, for example, launching a browser window that shows a particular location in Google 3D view, in Street View, pops up photos available, etc., as you can do today in a browser. No reason you can't have a URL in a Location, just as you can have a Description, and then that URL works its magic however you want.
For that matter, no reason you can't have a URL component. People could publish an .mxb like the Volcanoes project with a "Double-click me" component that launches the Volcanoes video from YouTube in a browser, to show people how to use it.
PS: Watch that dolmen thing... it's easy to get hooked. Those two dolmen in Meudon are just "gateway" dolmens... try them and before you know it you're telling your family and friends "I can quit whenever I want..." while planning family vacations around obscure dots on maps... :-)
We're going to make that easier with the addition of GPS/cell location-awareness and moving map mode. Load Viewer and a project onto a tablet and when everybody else in the rent-a-car starts freaking out as you guide your trusty Citroen through a field, you can confidently say, "no worries, it is just around this next corner on the other side of that clump of trees..."
By the way, upcoming demo projects will include UNESCO world heritage sites, US Civil War battlefields, and giant sinkholes of the world. Suggestions for other lists of sites for Locations (famous waterfalls?....) would be very much appreciated!