Open Letter to MS Games Studios

We’re not giving up so easily! I just sent this letter to Phil Spencer in Redmond.

To: Phil Spencer
VP of MS Games Studio
Redmond, WA
An open letter regarding the incomprehensible decision to kill Flight Simulator development.

Dear mr. Spencer,

I have reason to believe that you are, at least partially, responsible for the killing of Flight Simulator, through laying off the entire ‘ACES studio’ at Microsoft.
I would like to make you aware of my view on that incomprehensible decision. I think I can safely say this is the view of tens and very likely hundreds of thousands of dedicated Flight Simulator fans and users all over the world.
YOUR customers, as well as mine.

My guess is, knowing some of what happened internally at MS in the past years, that someone in the management or finance department noted that the ‘Flight Simulator game’ was not raking in anywhere near as much money as Windows, Microsoft Office, Exchange or any of the XBox games.
Of course it was not, and it never did.
‘We’ all know that.
The Flight Simulator market was and is a niche market compared to MS’ other products, and certainly compared to the rest of the world’s gaming industry.

But you see, THERE is the problem.
Flight Simulator is NOT a game, even though it can be used as such and even if Microsoft’s marketing folks tried to sell is as such.
However, I am pretty sure that many people within Microsoft never acknowledged that. Or even understand.

Flight Simulator is exactly what the title implies: a simulation.
Maybe you’ve never used it? Then let me explain you the basics of it.
FS(X) is not only of aircraft or the flying with them, not only of the instruments and controls. No, MS Flight Simulator is the ONLY simulation in the world that you can use on a PC and that simulates the World of Aviation in the broadest sense. It has all the world’s airfields and airports included, in various levels of sophistication and realism, it has a wealth of various aircraft from the venerable Piper Cub to the latest Boeing 777. But it also has all weather effects with clouds, rain, snow and storms, and it has the world’s landscapes modeled. Not just some little areas around one of the airports as regular ‘games’ would have, but the entire globe ! It has sounds, Air Traffic Control that tells you where to go, Artificial Intelligence aircraft that fly around you, even road traffic and all sorts of boats underneath your plane. It has all the seasons, light and dark, the sun and the moon, bad weather and good.

In short Flight Simulator offers you everything you may find in real aviation with the only exception being the risk of actually killing yourself!

What is even more important however is that Flight Simulator has brought flying to many hundreds of thousands of people who would love to go flying, but can’t, for whatever reason. Word has it that you have sold a million copies of the latest version even !
It has been the first window – pun intended – into the world of flying for so many kids, many of whom are now pilots.
It is the only program that has sparked not a few fan sites but actually thousands of Internet communities that not only provide news and help to its participants, but that also fulfill a social role in today’s fast-paced world, where so many people get isolated.
It drives thousands of sophisticated model cockpits all over the world, many of them being used for real-world training in various forms

I dare say that Microsoft Flight Simulator has been the best medicine for many people, taking them away into the virtual skies, forgetting their pains, heartaches, worries and misery and making them ‘pilot’ for a few happy hours at a time.

And although FS will live on, and third party add-on developers and publishers will continue to build new parts for it, it is THAT what Microsoft has taken away from them and from all of us. That ‘history’, that part of our lives that has always been there and should always have remained there.

So I, in the name of tens, and more likely hundreds of thousands of dedicated Flight Simulator users around the globe, I hereby kindly ask you to think about the implications of stopping a unique program and ‘movement’, of taking away an ‘icon’ of the Gaming Industry, Microsoft and of all flightsimmers world wide. And of throwing away ESP with it.

I wonder, how many PASSIONATE customers you have for MS Office? Or Windows Vista?
I guarantee you that the Flight Simulator customers are passionate. About aviation in general and about your product in particular. For almost THIRTY YEARS already. THERE is the difference with anything else you have ever produced!

So therefor PLEASE RECONSIDER this most unfortunate decision, knowing that MS Flight Simulator is NOT your run of the mill Microsoft product and knowing how much you have hurt such a huge number of your customers.

Thank you kindly for your time

Best but sad regards,

François A. ‘Navman’ Dumas
(among many other things) Managing Editor

The simFlight Network

0 Responses

  1. Thanks Francois. Microsoft were happy to buy it years back when the development was “easy” and they were happy to buy a popular company and they obviously thought they could ride along on it and rake in the bucks. As you mentioned they don’t appear to any conception of the size of the flight sim “family”. I for one hope that it is bought from them and put in the hands of someone who truly is committed to flight simulator. Many of us have wondered in eager anticipation where the state of the simulator might be in another ten years or so. The potential remains.

  2. I totally agree with the letter, but I sometimes wonder whether anybody really listens at Microsoft. But there is no harm in trying.

    Well done François.

  3. I hope that something will come out from the letter.
    I think it’s well written and (naturally) full of valid points.
    I’m not at all sure that this will change their strategy, but hopefully, they are aware of what the implications their action are.
    Anyway, thanks for sending it Francois.

  4. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that someone at Microsoft is listening. I can’t give details, but what I will say is from recent experience they are listening, and aware of us. Francois, can you contact me via email when you have a sec?

  5. There IS probably someone listening somewhere in Redmond, but if i know Microsoft as good as i think i do, the strong hierarchy within the company will prevent a short term change of mind. Let’s face it: there were certain people who pulled the plug. Those people had their reasons. If – and when – Microsoft decides to recall or overrule the decision made by those people, it means that the wrong decision was made and that those people were able to make a wrong decision.

    Seeing how much of an impact this ‘wrong’ decision has, it means that there ARE people working at Microsoft with too much influence and too little insight. If you go one step further down the road, it means the people who hired the people with too less insight are incompetent as well. Within the hierarchy of Microsoft it is a one way street that goes bottom up in the chain of command. All the people in higher places will defend the decisions of people in lower places in order to consolidate their own position.

    Now to end with a positive note: let us hope someone breaks the chain of hierarchy and has the b*lls to stand up and prevent anymore reputation damage to Microsoft that has occured as a result of a business driven decision that lacks a solid foundation. If Microsoft really is about passionate consumers, than this is the chance to demonstrate it.

    NB: I also have a second theory about what is happening with FS, but for the sake of our passion i will not share. Maybe later when all this settles down….

  6. You’re right François to try to communicate with Microsoft. Its look like a real “mayday – mayday – mayday”. What do you think about the possibility for Aces team to fly by themselves with their own wings and supported by thousand of passionate customers? Maybe I’m dreaming…

  7. While I admire Mr. Dumas’ enthusiasm for MSFS, I must disagree with the statement that……..

    “….MS Flight Simulator is the ONLY simulation in the world that you can use on a PC and that simulates the World of Aviation in the broadest sense….”

    Has the FS industry completely forgotten about X-Plane? Yes, I’m a loyal X-Plane user, but I was a MSFS user for a long time before. I’ve owned EVERY Single version of FS (except FSX) since FS 1.0 (yes, I’m that old). But MS (in as much as I hate to say this) brought alot of it’s lacking sales for FSX upon it’s own. The only thing new in my opinion that was worthwhile, was the huge performance hit for most machines (and we can debate until we’re all blue in the face that MS wanted to produce a product that would be ahead of the technological curve for hardware, so that the hardware could catch up with the software, blah blah blah.) And let’s not forget everyone’s favorite….product activeation! (yes you bought it, but you need our permission for you to use it). The introduced “missions” into the sim to give the player an interactive experience. Excuse me, but what exactly were the “adventures” in previous MSFS products? And what other “new and improved features” were introduced into the product that had actually always been there, just with a different name before? (I actually don’t know, since like I said, I don’t own FSX).

    A big turnoff for me with FSX was the initial lack of multi core processor support. The developers originally CLAIMED that it wouldn’t have made a difference so they “chose” not to put it in, so on and so forth. So if it wasn’t a worthwhile feature, why did it show up in a future SP?

    Like I said, I admire Mr. Dumas’ loyalty, and enthusiasm, but many a poll has been published (in particular, this very sight), asking users which version of FS do they currently use. We all remember the results I’m sure. And while I don’t want this to end up an X-Plane vs. MSFS topic, I just wish that MSFS fans would make statements that were more factual, instead of claiming that MSFS was the “ONLY” sim out there. Making a statement like this, and sending it to MS, is almost an insult to their intelligence. Do you not think they haven’t heard of X-Plane by now? You can’t tell me they don’t monitor web forum traffic on their competitors products? And I’m pretty sure they already know that their product has airplanes, world wide scenery coverage, etc. etc. etc. Telling them what they already know about their own product is counter-productive for what you’re trying to do, which is to convince them to reverse their decision. Like I said, it almost seems you’re insulting their intelligence.

    I’ve begun noticing MANY people (like myself), who have migrated over to X-Plane, and still many more to come it seems. MSFS is a good product. I just prefer X-Plane. I won’t claim that X-Plane is the “only sim out there, the only sim that has a community of loyal users, the only sim……”. Yes, our community is small by MSFS standards, but it’s not just about numbers right? (Obviously not, since “word has it” that MS sold 1 million copies of the latest version). But who’s “word” is it?

  8. Great letter Francois, maybe we can all somehow add our names to it like a petition and bombard them and show them the community involved.

  9. That was an excellent letter Francois. Someone had to do it and thankfully you did it for all of us. (Thanks from all of us!)

    Whether it’ll make any difference at all is anybody’s guess. I often wonder if there are any ‘real’ people with feelings behind corporate giants. They generally act based upon a balance sheet and ledger book alone, and with little or non-existent competition, they neither need nor require customer loyalty.

    I believe most would agree that Vista is a colossal failure, yet it sells simply because the end-user is forced to use it when they buy a new computer.

    If the marketplace was competitive, MS would have to alter their strategy dramatically, and then, and only then, what the customer wants would be ‘job one’.

    That’s a pipe-dream for now. Perhaps one day MS will lose their top-spot and they’ll be forced to start making products designed with the end-user in mind.


  10. i know i shouldn’t be refering to a “competing flightsim site”, but read the frontpage at AVSIM
    MS FS is as dead as a doornail.

  11. According to “anonymous” sources.

    Until it comes from the horse’s mouth, I’m afraid, Avsim’s latest “facts” are as much conjecture as anything else surrounding what has happened.

  12. éAvsim’s latest “facts” are as much conjecture as anything else surrounding what has happened.”

    Wish it were so, but Tom Allensworth has some good “connections”. He’s simply protecting his sources.
    But i suppose you’re right, we won’t know for certain until ‘after the event’.

  13. It will be a little while until the ‘facts’ really emerge I’m afraid, notwithstanding Avsim’s CNN-style ‘reporting’ 😉

    I am also not responding to the X-plane claims. Now and here is not the place for it, nor will it be. Happy to discuss elsewhere.

  14. AVSIM statement could be CNN like as françois mentioned, but there are many tips and hints that came out of the mouthes of MS representative who spoke about a certian commitment to the franchise versus MS Live entertainement whatever…

    I keep thinking that MS takes advantage of this crisis to rethink this franchise and shift its concept toward live or whatever other technology or concept they decide to aproach in the future… If that event happened during normal economy times, the explosion would have been a nuclear devastation to the FS community, fans or third party developers… but in a recession, this strategy can slip smoother… unfortunatly


  15. Even if only parts of the Avsim announcement is true, it a scary thought. From an open platform simulator to a “semi open” flying game.

  16. If Microsoft were to try that model, and attempt to make it a product where there were significant monthly fees and upsells for addons (no freeware), I know many of us would not buy it.

    It is the openness of the product that draws us to it moreso than the availability of addons from Microsoft. I think they need to look long and hard at what our community has to say before going down that path (reading the forums, etc), and I hope that they are.

  17. Dear Francois,
    World of FS and I support you for the fully 100%..!

    I get to fly Flightsim most days of my life.. the
    rest of my time I simply waste.

    Kind regards.

  18. Guys Like me and Francois have done, there’s nothing stopping the rest of you flooding this email address ‘’ with as many emails as possible in support of Aces and Flight Simulator. Let’s all chip in for a good cause…

  19. Francois, I totally agree to what you say in your letter, because we both share the same point of view. But I disagree that the management of Microsoft also shares this point of view and thus can and will follow your arguments.

    I am pretty shure what the leading staff at MS is interested in is pure profit. They don’t and won’t share your enthusiasm and addiction to flight simulation nor will they bother about hurting many people, a whole community worldwide. The only thing they are interested in is to maximize their profit.

    I’ll give an example: Josef Ackermann, CEO of Germanys biggest bank, the Deutsche Bank AG, announced in early 2005 a record profit and in the same sentence the layoff of 6000 (!) employees (source: german only).

    THAT is the way these managers think, sorry to say that. They are not interested what other people think, what other people feel or what consequences other people have to carry caused by their descicions. They are only interested in increasing their profit to the max. And perhaps how fast the Porsche/Ferrari/Lamborghini or whatever is, which they may buy as fourth or fifth car for their garage.

    I hope you understand why we, the flightsim community, can share your point of view in every bit. We all share the same enthusiam and addiction to flight simulation as you do, Francois. But I doubt that anyone in the MS management will even understand what you want from them. And yes, you must call this truly poor thinking, but if you watch the daily news on TV or read business news in the internet, you will see that this is the only way managers think in this times. 🙁

  20. Beste Francois,

    Many thanks for your effort. About the impact, we can only guess. I know from good experience (its my job) that modern consumer based companies listen carefully to their customers. However, these companies have lived in a competitive world for their entire existence and unfortunately management at Microsoft was not raised that way.

    I was quite surprised about the impact of the decision to lay of ACES had on my personal life. My first flightsim product was the SUBLOGIC version of Flight Simulator for the Atari 800 XL computer, which I bought when I was 12 (darn, I am getting old!).

    I have lived with various versions of Flight Simulator all my life. I started flying in real life because of this experience and a few years ago I got my PPL. Flight Simulator is still here on my PC. I am a big fan of FSX since day 1, but I know I am fortunate that I can invest a lot of money in state of the art computer hardware to enjoy all FSX has to offer.

    The thought that this part of my history has ended, hurts. It makes you realize you get older and some parts of your youth are gone.

    However, were I in the same position, I am sure I would have made the same decision as Microsoft has. Flight Simulator is and has always been a niche product. If I understand correctly, ACES employed about 100 people. Sure not all fultimers, but nevertheless a huge group of people to employ and pay. The business men around us clearly understand why FS and TS can not support this group of people. Please PM me if you want some figures.

    Let’s face it, today’s gaming is about consoles, mobile and on-line. We may not like it, but that’s reality. I think Austin Meyer is crying all the way to the bank if he compares his return from his excellent iPhone applications to X-Plane for the PC. The economic crisis we are facing (and in the US already experiencing) will have huge impacts on company decision making. Free money is gone, high returns will be necessary to survive.

    The good news is, there will be more room for competion from really dedicated niche studio’s like Austin Meyer’s. X-Plane shows that a small and dedicated group of people can do as least as good as Microsoft can. This fact is also proven by all the outstanding add-on developers that produce products at a quality that has always amazed the ACES team.

    Move over Microsoft, give way to the real dedicated people!

  21. Aunque escribo en español que lo hago deliveradamente porque este tema trasciende fronteras, quisiera trasnmitir a los responsables del cierre de Aces Studios el concepto de que el Simulador de Vuelo no es simplemente un programa que nos distrae por momentos efímeros, creo que el simulador de vuelo es una plataforma que durante varios años ha permitido al conformación de comunidades extensas por todo el globo, la construcción de relaciones humanas debido a su grado de interactividad, y sin duda conforma una parte importante de la vida de muchos de las personas que nos dedicamos a este pasatiempo. Al mismo tiempo quisiera desde mi humilde punto de vista solicitar a MS reconsidere su posición y permita que este legendario simulador continue viviendo.

    Javier Linares

  22. Dear All:

    I have just sent a mai to Steve Ballmer:

    Dear Steve:

    Please hire again to Aces Studios team to get a new Flight Simulator for PC machines or ESP Simulator.

    This product doesn’t deserve to die.

    I wouldn’t like to be user of X-plane 9.30.

    Alfredo Mendiola Loyola
    Flight simulator scenery and cockpit designer since 1998
    Lima, Perú


    I have read that Steve’s worst enemy are Google and apple.

    We must tell Steve that X-plane 9 is made using apple machines and
    is selling a lot on iphone.

    Maybe this topic makes him to rethink his worng decission.

    Alfredo Mendiola Loyola
    Lima, Perú

  23. Marc I agree, MS will certainly look toward consoles, online and mobile entertainment rather than oldschool PC games that are wraped in the sheets of hardware limitations etc…

    I believe MS will take FS to the LIVE I think and it might not be the FS we used to know, the one for serious aviation fans who knows…

    No doubt MS have followed and monitored the Iphone fever and knew about Xplane for Iphone. MS will not let the old time compititor Apples squeeze it in the corner neither Meyer’s Xplane reaches the hot new technology/gadget of the moment before MS does…

    Let us not forget that our dear FS comes from a controversial company that tried to play business in an unhealthy way and got many law suits on its shoulder… The economy could be a magical door for MS to twist and modify many of its franchises in a way that could not have been easily possible in good economical days…

  24. I wonder how many of you complaining now ever bought a legal version of FS.

    Piracy is one of the reasons causing the end of the FS franchise. Maybe think about it before you destroy another of your favorite software. Be a trustable person, buy legal.


  25. If Microsoft does indeed go with the online business model of subscriptions and all add-ons going through their approval process to become payware, wouldn’t that mean the end of freeware? That to me is the backbone of our simming community.

    I think the time has come to move beyond MS has the basis for our hobby. The model railroading industry create an organization back in the 1930’s to create standards and practices to promote and grow their hobby and where everyone can build upon it. There has been no single company that controls it. Can we not do the same for flight simulation?

    We certainly have some of the most talented developers, modelers, and coders to achieve this… a new groundwork platform from which to build upon. Didn’t products such as Firefox, AVG, and Open Office start as a community open-source project?

    I say we have several good years left in FS9 and probably a half dozen more with FSX before they reach their potential and start to look old. That buys a lot of time to either build a FS platform from the ground up or join forces with and organization like Flightgear.

    It’s maybe just wishful thinking but imagine having input on a FS where you don’t have to continually re-purchase add-ons for one version to the other, where developers could concentrate on marvelous projects rather than worrying about the FSNExt breathing down their necks. Where a simmer could build his FS world that could now last 20-30 years.


  26. Dear François
    We know each other since the early days of FS, sofar I remember FS4.
    The pitty todays commercial & economic system is, that stock-traders representing shareholders have the saying in many companies. Rather to give money to companies to live, they pull-out the money of companies until they can not life anymore. Many managers are under pressure, many managers do use the same system for personal benefit. Your words, even true and honest as ever will – i believe so – not be heard. They do not believe that the users of MSFS getting killed theyr hobby will switch from other MS products away as well. That will be the only language they understand, pull away money thru les purchase of MS products.
    To call for understanding and feelings, they wont hear us.
    For me FS4 to FSX was and is fine (and I grateful to have it). I will fly until may last 32-bit system will blow, that will be for the next 10 years at least. However my purchase of Office 2007 MS will not get it !
    With best regards
    Peter Kruesi

  27. I think MS is forgetting all the stand alone systems that need an extra Windows licence. I suggest if it is true MS stopping FS, we should all change to Linux and run X-plane.

  28. It is true alright, Dirk, but your suggested ‘alternative’ is no alternative to most of us here 😉 Believe me, we’ve looked and tried. Maybe another 12 years down the road?

    Meanwhile development FOR MSFS will continue unabated, if only just to show them how wrong they were :-))

  29. Can you immagine what FSX will look like in 5 years from now! I mean if theew will no PC sequel… with all the add-ons, more powerful machines and video cards… It will be a completely different thing…

    And who knows, developers out there might make it more open engine than it is now… It will be owned by the community not MS

  30. I run FS9, two copies of FSX ( one on laptop and one on fairly powerful pc) and X plane.The latter is interesting but has , in my opinion,a long way to go to match either fs9 or FSX with addons. I have a ppl with IMC. I spend probably as much time working with the innards of Flight sim than flying.I know there are, as Francois puts it, hundreds of thousands like me. I accept that MS are concerned only with bottom line but do they really want to lose this revenue stream.As Francois puts it we are mostly not gamers and trying to make us become as such is a complete waste of time, and money for them.They may get another market but they will not get us. So we carry on with what we have, hoping that the add on industry (freeware and payware)don’t develop the shakes and hope X Plane or similar take up the chaellenge seriously. MS actions are not because of the state of various economies .They actually reflect the attitude that has caused the current problems. MICROSOFT PLEASE WAKE UP.

  31. Thanks for your very reasoned protest to Microsoft.I beleve it to
    be a very bad decision not just for us with a commitment but to
    Microsofts reputation.Frankly they deserve to loose business generally
    and if they dont reverse the decision be it on their heads they will
    come to see the futility of the action.

  32. As a longtime and avid Mac user, Flight Simulator is the ONLY reason I also have a Windows machine. Hopefully someone will take up the development and also port to other platforms. In that case: Thank you, Microsoft!

  33. I for one wasn`t at all impressed with the letter! It was childish,patronising and full of grammatical errors! The upshot is Microsoft has made a business decision based on the current economical crisis. They are not however a totally reckless organisation and have as I understand it sold the rights to games studio Mamba. As an independant company with no associations to Microsoft we can be assured that future generations of Flight Simulator will receive full attention as the success of Mamba may well depend on it! We as consumers and avid fans will then get the product we deserve and not the half-hearted underdeveloped product we currently have!

  34. Whilst the sentiments are admiral I think you are all bashing heads against brick walls. MS Flight Sim has been around for years and then MS Train Simulator was introduced and the writing was already on the wall close after when a proposed second edition release never even made it beyond the news page. I know at least one expensive UK developer who has for two years been promising to release/produce a much needed add-on to their software packages and still insist it is coming we have just found another problem as to why it is still un-released. It is this attitude prevailing in the industry that is causing the death of MSFS and not microsoft or aces. If I was MS I would have ensured only MS produced software would work with my program and instead allowed enough information to be released to allow almost anyone to produce in a great number of cases excellent add-ons BUT at an ever increasing cost to the consumer the very people you appear to have little thought for, why because you care about YOUR profits instead of the original product or the consumer, your customers. I own a pretty good PC that exceeds the FSX spec by quite some margin so I purchased FSX and after several hours of installation I finally kicked it into life and was greeted to a display that wouldn’t have made it as a slide show and I was getting less that 50 secs per frame (YES seconds per frame not FPS) and to alleviate that problem, spend even more money and buy SP1, just weeks after release of the original which was supposed to be ready for use, mistake number 1. Then months later we are treated to SP2 because they had still forgotten more than they remembered and then they wonder why they lost millions of sales of FSX.

    MS never will agree to any demands/threats/questions because they don’t have to they are a business and dumb enough and stupid enough to believe nobody else knows how to do it and I guess they are to a certain extent correct, after all how many millions is Bill Gates worth, remember, of the backs of IBM who he ripped off to start MS in the first place.

    For those who want CHOICE try Open Office – beats the crap out of MS Office AND FREE, try FIREFOX – safe and 100 times better than IE AND FREE, Google Mail – safe, on-line and easy to use with tons more space than your own HDD’s could ever compete with AND FREE so why should we bother using MS products? I only use XP as an op system to enable me to use a myriad of software no other op system could even attempt to handle and a damn site better than VISTA could ever be.

    And just so you know – I own the following LEGAL products:

    1: Windows XP with service packs up to date – in use
    2: Windows VISTA home premium AND VISTA Ultimate – never to be used
    3: MS OFFICE SUITE 2007 – never to be used
    4: FSX plus SP1 and SP2 – never to be used

    and a whole pile of games products including FS9 and at a rough estimate approx £500 worth of add-ons many from SimMarket all with documentation to prove they are bought and paid for.

    So stop telling us what SimMarket want and ask US your customers and the first words will probably sound like “more and varied products which actually work as stated and at more reasonable prices”.

    To MS, just go ahead and do what you always do, care less about the consumer and more about your share-holders pockets.

  35. Well done François, well written article.

    I am one of th emany who through first discovering Flight SImiluator in 1998, that I decided to check out flying for real, something I had wanted to do earlier in my life but family and work could not allow.
    I now have a PPL and FS has really helped me learn things and remember my cgecklists etc down to a tee, yes some my say it is a game, but it is as you say a Simulator.
    What is different about FS to the simulators ailrines use to tain their pilots, not a lot except FS is far more detailed.
    Yep like all software it has it’s bugs and shortcomings, programming code to allow it to take advantage of the latest cpu’s and video cards on the market, hopefylly someone at Redmond will read this page and take notice.’

    Just a comment to the person who posted about X Plane, From what I have always seen with X Planes, is it doesn’t not cover the whole world, especially where I live, downunder. This is where FS beats X plane.Now if X plane has improved and is covering more of teh world, then I am mor ethan hapy to be corrected.

  36. With no future at present for the FS series, I wonder how many dedicated simmers would consider switching or creating add ons for X-Plane. It has been a contender for a while now that some simmers haven’t even touched. Would now be the time to switch to X-Plane and for some of the dedicated FS developers to swicth over? I’m seriously thinking about getting a copy now, at least to try.

  37. I for one, dont care if MS keeps pumping out more versions. THe flight sim add-on community will take care of that. I was going broke trying to keep up with the new FS every two years!! Then waiting for the add ons which seemed too long to come, and now that they are starting to pump them out, 99% are Payware, so, where MS leaves off, some other hogs will continue on. Catch 22…I still remember when 99% of add ons was FREEWARE..

  38. Thank you for writing a letter that reflects all of our thoughts on the decision which affects so many enthusiast thruout the world……….what they are also missing is that this IS Microsoft for many people that may not use the computer for work or pleasure other than simming!! And think about the developers and creators of the equipment used in this hobby………….I have a LOT of money placed in the computer as well as many add-on programs which I would re due if Apple chose to pick up this program, I for one, will not be buyer of any future MS programs or systems as my only reason would be to enhance the Flight Sim experience………I am sure I am not alone in this thought process………..For what its worth, MS will be losing my future business unless the FS is alive!!!

  39. There have been a lot of good comments about the years of life left in FSX, and I see this possibly being the kick in the butt this “niche” market needed to start development in an open source format. That is after all in my opinion what makes FS what it is today. From people designing freeware addons that give me the option of flying more that the default aircraft, to quality addons such as PMDG and all the others that I would gladly pay for.

    In my perfect little imaginary world, I would love to see an open source “world”(Including physics and default terrains) and pay for or download freeware addons for specific terrains and aircraft.

    I guess that was a really complicated way of saying that it would be like it is now, but have the base program be open source instead of MS. It seems to me there are plenty of years here for development. I for one never believed 10 years ago that I could get “MS Office” for free but look how far programs like open office have come. I now actually prefer the alternative… (Happy Firefox user!)

    So hopefully we will all look back on this someday as the new chapter for future flight simulation.


  40. So many interesting replies and a great open letter, francois. Although I more agree with the sceptics, I also agree with the statement, that a letter like this had to be written by someone and you did a splendid job. Thank you for that!

    Now I want to hit the same spot as [Clutch Cargo] and [Michel]: FS9 and FSX CAN BE a sufficient and longlasting basis for state-of-the-art-flightsimming (don’t want to exclude alternatives in general, but this thread is about MSFS.)

    We don’t need a new version every 2 years or so, with all the complications, that they bring along: new incompatible addon cycles, unbearable performance and the continous nagging feeling, that you’re practically out of date at all time (if your PC runs it fast, your FS is out of date and vice versa.)

    We need some dedicated programmers who give FS2004 multicore-support and FSX optimized multicore performance. If THAT could be accomplished, M$ could get happy with their stupid “we connect everyone to our servers, and let the stupid crowd pay for it”-game, because our freeware- AND payware-community would have a fabulous platform for many years to come, because the limited support of present and future day hardware abilities (i.e.: memory usage, autogen-limits, texture-resolution-limits) are the only obstacles, that may let FS9/10 principally appear outdated after a while.

    When that issue will be solved, the future will be wide open.

    As [Marc] stated, FS moved on from SUBLogic to MS and it became better every time. I began with FS2 on Atari (BTW: “Flight Adventures” are nothing new to FS – you could do some dogfighting against an artificial computer-driven plane in a special limited area in FS2.)

    And I have the feeling, that MSFS is now in a ripe state, that allows the user to take the main program for granted if the above mentioned limits could be erased or bypassed. Don’t get me wrong, M$ won’t publish or sell the sourcecode of FS9/10 in our lifetime. Billy and his gang live in a different world, that’s for sure…

    … but it’s a fact, that many FS-Users know darn well how to code, some in the freeware-scene, some in the underground and definitely many in the addon-industry, (that make a living on FS-users, who continually want to optimize their flying experience on their STANDALONE machines.) Plus the fact, that M$ made many ACES workless, who may now ask themselves what to do with their FS-programming knowledge and their abilities. What if they all interact?

    I won’t be too surprised, if one day, an unoffical FS v9.2-Upgrade or an FSX-SP3 floats around the net, and no one really knows, where it came from.

    And I would install it without any hesitations! 😉

    Happy landings,

  41. Francois-

    Very nice letter. I too was very saddened by the decision, and while I think the letter was a very admirable effort, I’m doubtful there will be any change anytime soon. I think that FSX will live on for quite some time with 3rd party support, but I sort of see staying with FSX for me as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    I’m starting the process of changing my cockpit over to X-Plane. Austin is getting ready to have some big changes in the next version that I think many people will be pleased to see.

  42. Dear All:

    I was doing research about x-plane scenery design and cockpit design and I can tell you that FSX SDK and tools are much better than x-plane. I will continue developing sceneries and simconnect programs for FSX. I will no witch to x-planes in mid term.

    For example, in x-plane you’ve got to assign elevation to each road vertex, but in FSX you just assign Lat and Lon and mission accomplished!!!

    FSX is a very good platform to develop add-ons, the FSX SDK is perfect.

    We need to make some free good quality programs to lure more FSX users, for example improve the default aircraft panels and flight models.

    It would be a nice idea to hack FSX code to mod it and improve it. (It’s just an idea)

    Alfredo Mendiola Loyola
    Lima, Perú

  43. Well, I fully agree with François.
    Thank you for your letter.
    I have read the huge list of comments and I also share many of those opinions.

    But it is only the beginning of a new hope.

    MS quits. Well, it is not a bad point.
    It makes a long time since we have a lot of reasons to fight against the poor quality of their work and codelines.

    OK. The next release of FS will come from another studio.

    Please, remember the Falcon 4.0 story and the incredible energy spent by a very little community in order to keep the simulator going on.

    I am sure, at 1000% (yes, 3 zeros), that the future will be easier now. And, that, that makes sense.

  44. Hardly a surprising move. In a time when income is down and cost is set to soon soar as Obama’s trillion dollars need to be recovered, companies left and right will have to cut cost and maximise profit.

    It’s the only way they can hope to survive in a world where the customers have less to spend and the government takes an even bigger part of your income in taxes than it does already.

    Products and services that aren’t core business and are relatively low in profit will be the first to go.
    And the flight simulator franchise fits both those criteria.
    It’s an investment-heavy product line with relatively low sales. As a result the profit margin is pretty small.

    If you know me you’ll realise that I’ve been predicting the dropping of the franchise for that reason for several years.
    Phil Taylor’s mention of part of the team being shifted to “a flying game” also fits in with my past idea that the franchise would be converted into a pure game, primarilly aimed at the XBox (thus creating lower development cost and being able to sell hardware with it).

    It took Microsoft longer than I feared to kill off the product line, but it had to happen sooner or later.
    No doubt not just the current economic climate played in the decision however, but also the ever increasing hostility of the userbase, blowing even the tiniest flaw all out of proportion. That’s putting severe pressure on the support staff, incurring extra cost for no income whatsoever (in fact income will decrease as those same people take their hostility online, causing largescale negative publicity for the product line, which hurts sales directly.

    So don’t blame Microsoft shareholders for being money grubbers who don’t care about our small community.
    Blame yourself for constantly complaining how bad FS is (you know who you are) while never acknowledging how good it is.

  45. I am a big fan of FS. been flying since 1996. While i admire your spirit i find your letter over the top. If i recieved it i would delete it. starting a letter with: incomprehensible decision is not going to start a dialog.


  46. It is a European style letter to an American manager. He will feel immediately offended and just stop reading after the first sentence….

  47. Hello Alex,

    You take the words right of my heart.
    Maybe it will more helpfull as we call all
    the flightsimmers to send a mail at the address
    of Microsoft.


  48. I think it is absolutely terrible that Microsoft would even consider terminating a programme that literally hundreds of thousands of people use all over the globe. IVAO (International Aviation Organisation) with 62 countries actively running there own division under supervision of IVAO HQ and over 20.000 members each flying online. And this is without mentioning other online communities such as VATSIM.
    I truly believe that Microsoft is not aware of the impact this decision will have on the long term effect on Microsoft’s sales. Many of these users are very well informed consumers who generate a very large portion of Microsoft’s revenue and actions such as these can have devistating effects on brand loyalty and could ultimaltely lead in to losses instead of the, probably estimated, profits the dumping of ACE would mean for Microsoft.


  49. Dear All,

    The core of FS has now another name: Enterprise Similation Platform (ESP). This is the foundation to build other simulations, not limited to games.

    The probable expectation from MS is to make a business with this asset. The market here is enterprises using ESP for profitable business, and thus asking for more developments and ready to pay a lot for that. The future of FSX is thus bound to the commercial success of ESP.

    The FSX market is a small group of aircraft simulation lovers, not the size of console buyers. We are ready to invest hundreds of hours in learning to fly, but only $100 a year for our hobby. How many of us would spend the price for a real pilot license? MS is naturally looking for this kind of spending, not the mere hundred of dollars from members of the small similation community. Alternatevely, MS could be interested in selling FSX access on a time basis, we would buy FS hours, we would call that FS-Live.

    Companies have to make choices when profitability is not so high. How long it will take to Apple to decide to give up on iMacs, and focus on iPods that are so cheap to design and manufacture and are selling so massively at such indecent prices?

    Maybe it’s time to see what open source can do in the flight simulation area. Forget about seeing FSX sources released to the public. ESP has likely a future, and serious potential customers.

  50. ESP was cancelled along with FSXI and Train Simulator 2. All three were being developed by the ACES division which was shut down.

    While there have been movements and appointments that imply the FS franchise is not entirely dead, ESP has not yet been resurrected.

  51. Ian, agreed, I’m a bit speculating. To continue this way: if no resurrection from MS and the code is gone for good, then I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about an ESP-like intitiative from Google Labs some day. There is a community here to fuel such open project.

  52. Train Simulator wasn’t sold to Kuju. Kuju developed Train Simulator. TS2 (the first one) was cancelled – Kuju then published it through Electronic Arts as Rail Simulator. They are about to release Rail Simulator 2, which is no relation at all to the, also cancelled, ACES-developed Train Sim 2 Mk.2.

    MS Have re-hired some of the ACES staff and have advertised positions for “a” flight related title. Current speculation is surrounding whether it will be an X-Box or “LIVE” on-demand based platform where you have to pay per use/component part or whether it will be a sim as we currently know it, which does not match Microsoft’s stated ends of “on-demand” and LIVE based software.

    It really doesn’t hurt to do a tiny amount of research before you post here, folks… Does it?

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