Via my friend Bruce Williams, an accomplished aviator, flight instructor, and technology guy, I hear that the first-ever, 5000-person cuts Microsoft has just announced in its work force include the team responsible for Microsoft Flight Simulator. Williams himself, who was a major figure on that team across six versions of the program over 15 years, presented the news on his website under the headline: The End of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Of course there are other flight simulators. I've always loved X-Plane, even before its creator, Austin Meyer, started flying a real-world
Cirrus airplane (fancier version of the kind I used to own). Still,
there was something magical about even the earliest versions of Flight
Simulator, with the familiar opening shot of a little plane ready to
take off from the sadly now defunct Meigs Field in Chicago. At this fascinating site
you can see screen shots from those embryonic versions, which provide a
startling reminder of how much imagination you needed to apply when
using the earliest computer games:
(See if you can detect any change in graphics in the intervening years: below is a screen shot of Flight Sim X, via Tom Bukowski at Smugmug.com:)
I don't mean to make light of real pain and hardship caused by software layoffs and those in all other industries. But the end of the FS era is poignant enough on its own to deserve a mention.
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