On my Flightsim Soapbox.
I know, I must be the Last of the Mohicans with SO many people over the past decades pissing on Microsoft for their monopolies, cranky OS’es, disdain for their customers and many other reasons. So call me naive, I don’t care.
Fact is, I have been a Microsoft ‘supporter’ from the day they launched Windows 3.0 that finally ‘worked’ and made us get rid of IBM’s OS/2 which was a big frustration in my (then) corporate IT life. I mostly ignored the Balmers and people commenting on other crap coming from Redmond.
In fact, I had a pretty good relationship with MS staff all over the continent and in the US and I signed multi-million Dollar deals with them on a yearly basis, obviously to the satisfaction of my own bosses.
I also was a major ‘fan’ of Microsoft because they published Flight Simulator. That program was what actually got me ‘into’ IT in the first place, starting my IT career way back in 1978. So to be truthful I admit that I do ‘owe’ part of my current history to them.
Over the many years in the flight simulation hobby (with kit and RC models at first!) , which became ‘computer simulation’ only sometime in the late 70’s when I acquired Solo Flight, I got to know just about everybody involved. The people visiting user forums, publishers, developers, and yes, the development team at MS themselves. And although the latter were not always successful in what they put out to us, they were trying real hard and were every bit as fanatic simmers as we all were and are! Well, I am assuming YOU are, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
Obviously, as in any major company, there was marketing and management to fight. Two groups that for some dark reason beyond our understanding seem to rule every company in the world, not bothered in most cases by their sheer lack of competence.
So, yes, we saw a few premature releases of half-baked simulator versions….. or operating systems for that matter!
Knowing quite a bit of what went on behind the scenes at the FS development group, I continued to support them (and hence, MS) hoping that the support would culminate in ever improving Flight Simulator versions. And it did. We all know there were some mishaps along the way, like FS95, CFS3, or FS2002, but FS2004 was a true ‘hit’ and is still used, and FSX was on its way of becoming FSXI and being yet again a wow-experience.
I think my and others’ support for the Redmond Team was well deserved.
And then, back early in 2009, that astounding news hit all of us (and not the least the development team at what was now known as ACES); Flight Simulator would be discontinued and all staff was fired on the spot!! It was a blow to the people who lost their jobs. It was a blow to the simulator communities all over the world. It was, in fact, an insult to that part of Microsoft’s customers! And no, I don’t care if it was a ‘business decision’. None of us did.
After that things started to slide obviously. Without the advertising MS used to do for their product the inflow of ‘new’ hobbyists stopped. FSX already had some negative effects too, like developing for it becoming so much more difficult that we lost a large part of the freeware market.
But we could still use it, and there were major developments from third party add-on developers that slowly turned FSX yet again into THE most interesting and all-encompassing flight simulator in the market.
And we forgot about MS, or ignored them, not being a payer in the market anymore.
But now they’ve done it. They are releasing MS Flight and it is everything that straight-up, experienced long-time flightsimmers were afraid it would be. And believe me, I most certainly DID try it and I am not just posting some kneejerk comment here.
To me, as a veteran simulation specialist, MS Flight is a boring game to most trigger-happy youth-with-pimples, at best, and as far away from a ‘simulator’ as Pong was from a real tennis match. (Some of you will need to Google ‘Pong’, I know. Let me help you, click here).
There, I’ve said it. MS Flight is crap for simulator fans.
Now, let me be nice for a moment; it really DOES look very nice and is what FS11 would have looked like today if MS would not have made the moronic decision to fire the FS team a few years ago. (Yes, I still hold that against them, so sue me!). It is also almost what FSX looks today with some good add-ons applied. As FS2004 with add-ons looked a lot like FSX out-of-the-box, or even better!
And maybe it uses the available hardware better than FSX or FSXI ever could. Mind you, I still see a lot of FSX traces in the software (!), so this is not certain by any means.
But…… that’s where the comparison and kudos stop for now.
So it is free……. hmmmmmm….
BUT…… with MS Flight you only get the main island of Hawaii. Period. And you get two aircraft with it. Period.
You HAVE to sign on the dreaded Windows LIVE system… the one most simmers have always avoided!
You can purchase additional islands (whoa !) of Hawaii.
And yes, you can purchase two additional aircraft. Gosh !
And oh yes, the silly floating green arrows in the air come standard with it…… basically they took the FSX missions and built a game around those! THAT now is the mainstay of the game!
Mind you, all this purchasing is FROM Microsoft ONLY, of stuff made by them (well, not really, it is made FOR them by a few ‘selected’ ex-FSX add-on developers). No ‘open’ source, no third party add-ons, no freeware.
What’s worse…. I haven’t seen any option to use it as a simulator, i.e. build home cockpits for it. Some aircraft aren’t even flyable from the INSIDE (!)…..
I won’t go on…… I made the comparison with Pong already. This game will do just a nice on your iPhone as on your PC.
Now, what REALLY turns me off is that it is so limited, AND, of course, that there is NO FREEWARE, and NO commercial Add-ons possible and you can only buy your stuff from Windows LIVE now. It turns me off as a sim fanatic and enthusiast, and having to make my living from add-ons, it obviously also turns me off professionally!
Alright, so I am slightly biased. Wouldn’t you be !? 😉
And that, my dear friends, readers and heck, why not, enemies…. is why I now turn my back on MS. They turned their backs on us after all.
Somebody once said “If you think Flight Simulation is a game, then get out of my airspace.”
He was so right!