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Tom Allensworth

The Demise of ACES Studios

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Folks, we have been working all morning to get details on the demise of ACES Studios beyond the rumors flying on the various game sites. That news is starting to roll in. Most of it is non-attributable because of NDA's and slight chances for some members to have continued employment with MS in other studios / home rooms. The picture that is emerging is not pretty. Of the over forty ACES members assigned to MSFS, all but six appear to be immediately impacted. Those six will be left to button up the product, burn master DVDS and then be forced to look for employment within the greater MS. TrainSim is dead. There will be no further releases of this product, according to our sources.We are working on this and developing the story. In the meantime, you may want to read my blog.

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Thanks Allen, can we assume ESP is also on that axe list? Will stand by for further news...

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Folks, we have been working all morning to get details on the demise of ACES Studios beyond the rumors flying on the various game sites. That news is starting to roll in. Most of it is non-attributable because of NDA's and slight chances for some members to have continued employment with MS in other studios / home rooms. The picture that is emerging is not pretty. Of the over forty ACES members assigned to MSFS, all but six appear to be immediately impacted. Those six will be left to button up the product, burn master DVDS and then be forced to look for employment within the greater MS. TrainSim is dead. There will be no further releases of this product, according to our sources.We are working on this and developing the story. In the meantime, you may want to read my blog.
http://www.futuregpu.org/2009/01/end-of-er...flight-sim.html

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No matter what happens we still have FSX (thank you Phil and team) which will have a very long shelf life with processor hardware just now starting to catch up to it in terms of high end use. and many are still on FS9Personally I find it hard to believe MS would completely dump a franchise like MSFS since it has been a cornerstone product since nearly the beginning of Microsoft and sports such a large following.

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Folks, we have been working all morning to get details on the demise of ACES Studios beyond the rumors flying on the various game sites. That news is starting to roll in. Most of it is non-attributable because of NDA's and slight chances for some members to have continued employment with MS in other studios / home rooms. The picture that is emerging is not pretty. Of the over forty ACES members assigned to MSFS, all but six appear to be immediately impacted. Those six will be left to button up the product, burn master DVDS and then be forced to look for employment within the greater MS. TrainSim is dead. There will be no further releases of this product, according to our sources.We are working on this and developing the story. In the meantime, you may want to read my blog.
Tom, congratulations on becoming a member AOPA. It was a good move. I have been a member for 55 years and have enjoyed every minute of it. I have a low number compared to the ones today. It is 134195.Jesse CallahanBrookeland, Texas

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Folks, we have been working all morning to get details on the demise of ACES Studios beyond the rumors flying on the various game sites. That news is starting to roll in. Most of it is non-attributable because of NDA's and slight chances for some members to have continued employment with MS in other studios / home rooms. The picture that is emerging is not pretty. Of the over forty ACES members assigned to MSFS, all but six appear to be immediately impacted. Those six will be left to button up the product, burn master DVDS and then be forced to look for employment within the greater MS. TrainSim is dead. There will be no further releases of this product, according to our sources.We are working on this and developing the story. In the meantime, you may want to read my blog.
If FS is truly a profitable enterprise as we have been led to believe, then some organization (either MS or through sale) will move the title forward. I am bullish on America and the free enterprise system (when it is allowed to be free) and understand that businesses need to make difficult and often unpopular decisions in order to position themselves for future success. My heartfelt sympathies to the folks at ACES and elsewhere that are affected by today's business climate. Here's to better times ahead.

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This really sucks, I hope they restart MSFS development when the economy stabalizes...It's a damn shame to see ACES go, I may not agree with everything they did with FSX, but I have to admit that even losing one Flight Sim franchise, let alone the biggest one out there, is a MAJOR blow to the flight simulation community...

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TomApart from being disappointed at the loss of FS, if I interpret things correctly I am very disappointed with Microsoft in the way they have handled this layoff. I think sending a terminating e-mail to an employee is unconscionable. The pschological impact of termination can be devastating.In the 80's for a couple of years I sat at the management table of a very large utility that had to go through a major downsizing - several thousand staff. A key part of this process was the human aspect - treating the employees with respect, fairness and providing assistance. Great emphasis was paid to the psychological impact on the terminees. We set up a counselling and employment seeking unit where the unfortunate employee was directed to go the following for assistance.I hope the layoff process is not as cold and hard as it is sounding.NigelVancouver

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No matter what happens we still have FSX (thank you Phil and team) which will have a very long shelf life with processor hardware just now starting to catch up to it in terms of high end use. Personally I find it hard to believe MS would completely dump a franchise like MSFS since it has been a cornerstone product since nearly the beginning of Microsoft and sports such a large following.
Yeah, FSX has a while to live yet given our add-on developers.I have been through two retrenchments. There is zero consideration as to whether the cost cutting is sensible, it is purely to bring down the expense. In both my occasions the only people left on the team was the newest junior with everyone that had any actually knowlege (and paid more) let go. The fact that the section actually made money and could not survive without someone that knew what they were doing really didn't seem to mater. Shareholders can be their own worst enemy.Personally, X-Plane could certainly use the talents of the FS devs. Seeing it has a low third-party development base I would think there would be a fair oportunity there. Still, I can't imaging dumping FSX as my primary sim for a fair while yet.

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Yeah, FSX has a while to live yet given our add-on developers.I have been through two retrenchments. There is zero consideration as to whether the cost cutting is sensible, it is purely to bring down the expense. In both my occasions the only people left on the team was the newest junior with everyone that had any actually knowlege (and paid more) let go. The fact that the section actually made money and could not survive without someone that knew what they were doing really didn't seem to mater. Shareholders can be their own worst enemy.Personally, X-Plane could certainly use the talents of the FS devs. Seeing it has a low third-party development base I would think there would be a fair oportunity there. Still, I can't imaging dumping FSX as my primary sim for a fair while yet.
X-Plane has the capability, it's just that there isn't enough of a user base there for groups such as flight1 and pmdg to consider developing on it. I wish that they would reconsider ACES closure, but if nothing else, they should release it as open source.

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TomApart from being disappointed at the loss of FS, if I interpret things correctly I am very disappointed with Microsoft in the way they have handled this layoff. I think sending a terminating e-mail to an employee is unconscionable. The pschological impact of termination can be devastating.In the 80's for a couple of years I sat at the management table of a very large utility that had to go through a major downsizing - several thousand staff. A key part of this process was the human aspect - treating the employees with respect, fairness and providing assistance. Great emphasis was paid to the psychological impact on the terminees. We set up a counselling and employment seeking unit where the unfortunate employee was directed to go the following for assistance.I hope the layoff process is not as cold and hard as it is sounding.NigelVancouver
Nigel-My thoughts completely.Email-come on-get some compassion/(other terms not allowed here).I had the good fortune to meet the team many years ago-enthusiastic rw pilot/fs addicts that gave more than what they were required..In other words-they gave more than their job description required-dream team employees.An email to dismiss -shameful. Still sick to my stomach.

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Apart from being disappointed at the loss of FS, if I interpret things correctly I am very disappointed with Microsoft in the way they have handled this layoff. I think sending a terminating e-mail to an employee is unconscionable.Nigel
Please be crystal clear on this point: no one was officially notified via email of this layoff. As has been reported, it was announced at a studio meeting at about 11:15am on Thursday. There are a few members of the Studio who work remotely and they were notified via personal phone calls from the former head of the studio immediately after the meeting. It may be true that one or more of these remote people was sent an email by someone else in the studio before the boss was able to call them, but that's not what was intended.

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I don't believe for a second about management sending emails to employees with notification of layoffs. One thing HR departments in corporate world know how to handle layoffs and I myself was laid off in software industry a few times. Lets not spread unfounded and damaging rumors or outright lies about Microsoft without knowing hard facts.

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To be honest, I sympathise more with the guys who were looking forward to TrainSim 2. The last version of that product was released a long time ago, whereas FSX is relatively new.

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Please can we all stop using this euphemism 'let go'. Let's use 'sacked', 'made redundant', 'paid off', 'fired' or whatever, that makes it clear who is doing what to whom.'Let go' is a euphemism invented by HR departments, to suggest that they are being humane, that the employee was desperate to leave and the company finally relented.Sports stars with better offers elsewhere, and people taken hostage, are 'let go'. Ordinary working stiffs are 'fired'./rant

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I got th is from a Beechcraft board.From: Steve Ballmer Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 6:07 AM To: Microsoft - All Employees (QBDG) Subject: Realigning Resources and Reducing Costs In response to the realities of a deteriorating economy, we're taking important steps to realign Microsoft's business. I want to tell you about what we're doing and why. Today we announced second quarter revenue of $16.6 billion. This number is an increase of just 2 percent compared with the second quarter of last year and it is approximately $900 million below our earlier expectations. The fact that we are growing at all during the worst recession in two generations reflects our strong business fundamentals and is a testament to your hard work. Our products provide great value to our customers. Our financial position is solid. We have made long-term investments that continue to pay off. But it is also clear that we are not immune to the effects of the economy. Consumers and businesses have reined in spending, which is affecting PC shipments and IT expenditures. Our response to this environment must combine a commitment to long-term investments in innovation with prompt action to reduce our costs. During the second quarter we started down the right path. As the economy deteriorated, we acted quickly. As a result, we reduced operating expenses during the quarter by $600 million. I appreciate the agility you have shown in enabling us to achieve this result. Now we need to do more. We must make adjustments to ensure that our investments are tightly aligned with current and future revenue opportunities. The current environment requires that we continue to increase our efficiency. As part of the process of adjustments, we will eliminate up to 5,000 positions in R&D, marketing, sales, finance, LCA, HR, and IT over the next 18 months, of which 1,400 will occur today. We'll also open new positions to support key investment areas during this same period of time. Our net headcount in these functions will decline by 2,000 to 3,000 over the next 18 months. In addition, our workforce in support, consulting, operations, billing, manufacturing, and data center operations will continue to change in direct response to customer needs. Our leaders all have specific goals to manage costs prudently and thoughtfully. They have the flexibility to adjust the size of their teams so they are appropriately matched to revenue potential, to add headcount where they need to increase investments in order to ensure future success, and to drive efficiency. To increase efficiency, we're taking a series of aggressive steps. We'll cut travel expenditures 20 percent and make significant reductions in spending on vendors and contingent staff. We've scaled back Puget Sound campus expansion and reduced marketing budgets. We'll also reduce costs by eliminating merit increases for FY10 that would have taken effect in September of this calendar year. Each of these steps will be difficult. Our priority remains doing right by our customers and our employees. For employees who are directly affected, I know this will be a difficult time for you and I want to assure you that we will provide help and support during this transition. We have established an outplacement center in the Puget Sound region and we'll provide outplacement services in many other locations to help you find new jobs. Some of you may find jobs internally. For those who don't, we will also offer severance pay and other benefits. The decision to eliminate jobs is a very difficult one. Our people are the foundation of everything we have achieved and we place the highest value on the commitment and hard work that you have dedicated to building this company. But we believe these job eliminations are crucial to our ability to adjust the company's cost structure so that we have the resources to drive future profitable growth. I encourage you to attend tomorrow's Town Hall at 9am PST in Caf

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Stupidity, short-sightedness, stupidity.The first cut for increased efficiency should be Steve Ballmer.

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Stupidity, short-sightedness, stupidity.The first cut for increased efficiency should be Steve Ballmer.
They could clone Steve Jobs to manage Microsoft. The copy would never equal the original, but it would be a nice competition with good result for consumers.

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I don't believe for a second about management sending emails to employees with notification of layoffs.
It happens.Best regards,Robin.

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No matter what happens we still have FSX (thank you Phil and team) which will have a very long shelf life with processor hardware just now starting to catch up to it in terms of high end use. and many are still on FS9Personally I find it hard to believe MS would completely dump a franchise like MSFS since it has been a cornerstone product since nearly the beginning of Microsoft and sports such a large following.
Very well said Nick, couldn't agree with you more.In my experience since AD1998, none of my versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator, have ever worked properly on any operating system, other than Microsoft Windows. In fact, MS Flight Simulator has been the only 'Criteria' I have ever used when upgrading my PC operating systems. My belief being that if an OS can make MSFS run satisfactory, then any other type of application installed thereafter will present no serious challenges to the OS. Thankfully too, there always seems to be an awesome MS familiar 'Guru' such as yourself Nick, that selflessly offers to help us folk put things right should a FS version go a bit peculiar. But since Microsoft launched XP, and during all the Service Pack renditions of SP1, SP2, SP3, SP4(Vista) and the forthcoming SP5(Windows7) I don't know of any other operating system that will run MS Flight Simulator better than the one it was designed for anyway, e.g. these various incarnations of Microsoft XP Pro! The decision to 'Terminate' any future developments of Microsoft Flight Simulator appears to me, to be a double edged sword. In one direction, it has ruthlessly hurt those geniuses who brought FSX to its present level, but in the other direction, it has severed the bonds that were vexing third party developers future investment plans, particularly in view of the anticipated arrival of a re-worked FSX in the form of FS-11 and all its attendant quirks/benefits. Now that Microsoft have made it painfully clear that FSX is going to stay, as is, for quite some time to come, perhaps now all the TPD geniuses who have made FSX the 'Beauty' that it is today, will make FSX the 'Must Have' simulator for all of those, who have yet to appreciate the awesome talents that make this hobby of ours, so utterly exiting, pleasurable and exquisitely unique. :(

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I second the thanks!
if and when I hear what the "future opportunity" turns out to be, I will update again.and you are welcome, the thanks is appreciated. this certainly isn't how I expected things to turn out when I went my merry way. :-(

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Along with everyone else, I was taken totally by surprise at the closing of ACES Studio. I look forward to every new version of the sim, even if it won't run on my hardware. First, I do feel for all our friends who lost their jobs. I pray they find something else quickly. Second, we are definitely in a recession greater than anything most of us have seen in our lifetime. It will get worse before it gets better. I heard an estimate from an economic statistician in Washington that the unemployment rate there could reach 15% by July. Hard to believe, but so is MS cutting 5000 jobs. Third, MS will not drop the FS series, although there will definitely be a break in development and may end up being migrated to console, which would kill it for most of us reading this thread. Fourth, we're going to be real happy that ACES designed FSX to use future hardware. Between that and the increasing add-ons, FSX can easily live on for three more years. Fifth, we're seeing a perfect example of why monopoly is bad and competition is good. We need a good alternate sim with a strong following. A well-designed open source project would be a first stepFor 2009, FSX will work fine.Ben

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