Google has released a beta version of Google Earth 4 as well as Google Sketchup. Not only does Google Earth come in localised versions and is available for Linux (were earlier versions of Google Earth available for Linux?).
GE4 also has a leaner user interface. Personally i think that the old UI especially for rotating was easier too use, but maybe i just got accustomed to it. It also supports the “streaming” of .kml files etc.
But the most important change is that it now supports textures on 3d models. This clearly shows the direction Google is taking with this tandem fo GE4 and GS. Textures can be used to do “photorealistic” renderings of houses etc. Textures, “quelle surprise”, are also the key ingredient for putting virtual ads onto/into buildings and other 3d structures.
Textures are also essential for the ability to do virtual walkthroughs of museums etc. which i think will follow suite. I haven’t tested it, but i think, giving its origin, Sketchup is already able to produce such models.