Rumour says that Microsoft layed off most or all of the Flight Simulator development team this morning (Gamasutra, Gizmodo). Microsoft (originally, Sublogic) flight simulator has been around for 29 years — I first tried it in ’82 or ’83.
If the stories are true, why not sell it, instead of shutting it down? Lots of other software companies would be thrilled to have such a popular and prestigious title, and it wouldn’t compete against anything else at Microsoft.
In any case, whether you’re an aluminum-and-15w50 pilot practicing approaches, or a gamer who does all your flying on a computer screen, there are still choices. Here are the two best candidates:
- FlightGear — an Open Source flight simulator that runs on most computer platforms. The scenery is a bit rough around the edges, but it’s solid and usable.
- X-Plane — a commercial product that already gets some retail distribution. It has a very devoted following, though I’ve never liked the demos I’ve tried as much as I’ve liked FlightGear and MSFS.
I’m looking forward to hearing more news. The huge MSFS developer community must be in shock (as well as the many small companies devoted entirely to producing MSFS add-ons).
Wow – just read this. I played with FS I in high school (’81 or ’82), loading it from a cassette, and bought FS II for my Apple ][ Plus in 1984. I fondly remember that FS II had both a manual for flying and a technical manual that described in quite a bit of detail how the application was written and worked. It almost seemed like Bruce Artwick was bragging, but in a good way! 🙂 IIRC, he practically wrote a VM in which to run the program.
I remember learning back then (and in later versions) about instrument flying, and the concepts have helped me with real flying.
If it’s really gone, it is indeed the end of an era. Bummer.