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Tom Allensworth

Splitting the Topic - Perspective & History

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Some of you are not going to like this message, so take a deep breath now...I have deliberately split the earlier topic "Perspective" to focus on one issue discussed in that thread that deserves a separate conversation. This statement is what motivated the split:Tom Allensworth, on 15 January 2012 - 10:53 PM, said:"The FLIGHT Team leadership did not state that they would develop beyond FSX, nor did they say they would not. We asked that question directly, for all the obvious reasons. You draw your own conclusions.""Hello Tom,call me stupid but I cannot draw any conclusions from the above. Still in the soup. I don't understand why this secrecy from the FLIGHT Team. I stated this question in another post too"There is a lot of history that comes to mind with a statement like the one I have highlighted. For the old timers here, you will know of what I speak...In the 90's, the MS FS Team had a single spokesman; a single public "face". It was during this period that MS FS 4.5, then 5.0, 5.1, and FS98 were released. Dealing with the MS team, toward the end of the 90's, was a test of patience, especially because of the bottleneck that a single person creates. Add to that Microsoft's policies of silence, NDA's, competitive paranoia, and so on, and the result was an organization so distant from its customer base, it might as well have been working on the moon, or so most believed at the time. I call this period "The Age of Dinosaurs in FS".What slowly emerged was an understanding of what the MS team really did to stay in touch with the dedicated simmers, and their opinions, suggestions, and different perspectives... IN SPITE OF THE DINOSAURS. We realized that some of the team members were avid forum denizens, and looked for feedback on their product via that mechanism, as well as the IRC channels, file libraries, and so on. Because of MS policies, they had to participate in stealth mode. They had always been there. The change that started to emerge was that in background, some staff were talking to us; not on the record, but communicating never the less.Throughout that period, the normal AVSIM reader was very disappointed by the lack of participation by MS in its community of users, and without violating confidences, we could not tell them otherwise. I can remember forum posts made, begging for MS to be part of the conversation with absolute silence in return. You can still see some of those posts from the 2002 / 2003 period.I hate to make this connection as one of the contributing reasons for a change by Microsoft, but I must... My personal opinion today is that the MS team saw the relationship that Terminal Reality, and specifically, Richard Harvey, developed and nurtured through the development, production and follow-on support of the FLY series. The support, the willingness to participate in bug stomping, soliciting ideas for improvements; all were very visibly done by Richard and others on the TRI team, in these very forums. People are still here who witnessed and understand the importance that the participation of Richard and his team brought. Scrounge around and you will see dramatic evidence of that too in the forum achieves. Richard passed away in early 2003, and by the end of the year or maybe early the next, the TRI team had its funding removed and became a paragraph in the history of Flight Simulation.It was at our FANCON in San Diego in 2004 that dramatic changes in direction were taking place within MS. An internal argument appeared to have been won, and MS team members showed up at the FANCON, willing to talk, on record, and participate with the attendees... The Golden Age of the Aces Team was upon us. The realization that users were being listened to and were getting feedback, positively changed the hobby and you can also see evidence of that today in these forums. The DEVCON and the FANCON that followed in Redmond, Washington, in the fourth quarter of 2008 was the last time that the ACES team made an appearance of any degree.Now, nearly ten years later, we seem to have come full circle. The team appears to be closed off and a spokesman (or two) have been saddled with the community as part of their job description.Some readers in these forums have expressed anger, dismay, disappointment, et al, at MS' lack of dialog and their antiseptic press releases as the only method of communication with this community. One way, of course.There are three aspects of this that I believe need to be remembered... ACES are gone and the evident connection with, and participation in, the community have gone with them. As far as I am aware the FLIGHT team are not embedded or linked to the AVSIM community, nor any other in our hobby for that matter. The second point is that with the demise of ACES, the corporate mindset of little, if any, interaction has re-emerged.Finally, I think the third aspect that we need to understand is that Joshua Howard and his team fully anticipated the frustration and downright anger that some have shown toward the introduction of MS FLIGHT. He and his team KNEW what was going to happen, and as history shows, they were right to anticipate the reaction that has occurred in our community. My point? If you know you are going to be in front of a hostile audience, why get on the stage in the first place? Dealing with a hostile minority of your anticipated user "base", and having a product to launch and more important things to do, why invest and indeed, waste, that energy? I can tell you for certain that whether we as a community get on board or not, is not a major concern of theirs. Their eyes are firmly on the market that they are attempting to address with FLIGHT. Like it or not.Some have been asking why only a handful of groups were invited to Redmond in December to meet with the FLIGHT Team and see the product. I suspect that some of us were invited in order to soften the blow to this community of "hard core" simmers that the FLIGHT product and the obvious message it would convey.These are my opinions with a little bit of history thrown in for context. This "silence" is no surprise to me, and I suspect a number of folks who have been around here awhile would agree. MS' attitude toward "hard core" simmers is not a surprise for me either (with all the benefit of hindsight)... A new team, with no connection to our community, focused on delivering a product that can meet and exceed management expectations, and a market size that makes this "hard core" community minuscule in comparison. What other outcome could we anticipate?You can be angry about it, resent the message, bemoan the death of a relationship, and run around with your hair on fire screaming betrayal. You are wasting your energy if you do so. As I tried to say in my "PERSPECTIVES" topic of yesterday; take a deep breath, withhold judgment, and wait to see what really appears on launch day.

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Thank you! Actually feel better about FLIGHT now... :(

and wait to see what really appears on launch day.

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Thank you! Actually feel better about FLIGHT now... :(
Well, don't get excited. I know no more than you do as to what will be seen on launch day...

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Well, don't get excited. I know no more than you do as to what will be seen on launch day...
I am not excited, I am optimistic. Nothin' wrong with being happy about something NEW for our community eh?I bet if you were my age you would understand a little bit more. :(

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I seem to remember that in the run up to the release of FSX members of ACES appeared in these forums and were subject to abuse by some members - just as members of the Flight team would be if they came here.I also seem to remember that ACES stopped going to another forum because of the persistent use of Microsoftoft and M$ by some posters.If you insult your guests they'll, quite rightly, ignore you.

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Thanks Tom for your thoughtful musings. I might be wasting my energy, but I have grown up to do the right thing: Do things out of passion, not for profit, and be a democrat and speak your opinion.

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Do things out of passion, not for profit
And what do you do when the money runs out and you go bust?

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And what do you do when the money runs out and you go bust?
Doing something out of passion does not prevent one from turning a profit. The point was that MS is motivated ONLY by profit.MSFS creators had that passion at one time, but those people seem to be long gone.

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I've always thought that Microsoft's desire to 'go public' on the forums was a company-wide decision. I remember in late 2002 going to an MVP conference at Microsoft, where there was a lot of discussion about how MS could engage their customers online, in particular how we as MVPs dealt with issues such as personal attacks. I can remember talking to regular people who just wanted to be able to help their users, and had been told they needed to get more involved, but were very concerned about the number of abusive posts, no matter what the product. At the time my involvement was with a completely different MS product -- Publisher. Quite mild compared to FS:)One of the 'skill's of a successful MS MVP is the ability to be very machine-like, and never react to the crazies. Even the best burn out eventually, and expecting all MS employees to be able to deal with this struck me as a bit much. I'm surprised that their forum involvement lasted as long as it did.

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Guest jahman

Thanks Tom for the perspective! I'm on board with what you're thinking.There's one bit I still don't understand though:

Finally, I think the third aspect that we need to understand is that Joshua Howard and his team fully anticipated the frustration and downright anger that some have shown toward the introduction of MS FLIGHT. He and his team KNEW what was going to happen, and as history shows, they were right to anticipate the reaction that has occurred in our community. My point? If you know you are going to be in front of a hostile audience, why get on the stage in the first place? Dealing with a hostile minority of your anticipated user "base", and having a product to launch and more important things to do, why invest and indeed, waste, that energy?
Why did MS get our hopes up with the Dec. 8 press release stating legacy simming would be respected? I did send lots of recommendationst to MS for Flight, and now an arcade game is released with no legacy simming content at all and MS is saying nothing about what the future holds for us legacy folk.So was the Dec. 8 press release a mistake then? What is your take?Cheers,- jahman.

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Doing something out of passion does not prevent one from turning a profit.
Couldn't have said it better myself...Most great companies have been born out of passion and talent in some form. As they grow that passion is often lost, which is why some founders of great companies leave and become philanthropists instead. But I am no fool and understand perfectly well that I'm wasting energy on FLIGHT. But life is without meaning, it is only meaningful in the minds of each and every one of us. I choose to live life to the fullest and go where passion takes me even if that means less dollars in my pocket. Others might see things differently and have differet passions. Nothing I can do about it. I'm just happy that Tom and the like have created such great communities where passionate people meet. I can't imagine it was created with profit in mind. Few great things ever were.

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Why did MS get our hopes up with the Dec. 8 press release stating legacy simming would be respected?
What is their definition of "legacy simming" and what does "respected" mean? I am not being Microsoft's apologist here. I just think that people need to start asking questions before they leap to conclusions I see being posted in this forum and elsewhere.Bottom line; I can't explain the press release or its intentions. No one here, that I know of, has seen the entrails of this thing. Therefore, not knowing the "guts" of the sim so to speak, how can anyone know for sure what its compatibility is with the "legacy simming" statement or "be respected" apply?

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As they grow that passion is often lost, which is why some founders of great companies leave and become philanthropists instead.
Harvard MBA course #2... "The Life Cycle of a Company". :(

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Tom....As much as I hate to face it.... well said. I think a lot of the expresses frustration, including my own, came from an anticipation that was never in evidence. Like so many other's, part of this frustration is venting because of my own stupidy. People do that. Other than a brief statement about the existing base, they never ever really misrepresented their intent. In fact, an argument may be made that they tried to tell us in their own way. They overtly removed the name "Simulator". And if I remember right, some of the third party people were showing us the handwriting on the wall as well where we really didn't want to accept it then. In the end, they knew or at least had a pretty good idea.Bob - Las Cruces.

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Harvard MBA course #2... "The Life Cycle of a Company". :(
Cognitive biases makes identifying which cycle you're in is the hardest part of course (Harvard PSY 2670). There's the Kodak cycle and the Apple cycle...

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I've seen some hints that the flight dynamics underlying the planes in Flight, at the most realistic settings, are at least as realistic as those of FSX. That could very easily be what they mean when they say they're respecting legacy simming (though of course I have no more way of being certain about that than any of you).

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Identifying which cycle you're in is the hardest part of course. There's the Kodak cycle and the Apple cycle...
I am in the retirement cycle... :(

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The premier place to be :)
Well... in these economic conditions, I will officially "retire" when I die at my job. :(

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Well Tom, I think if many here will read your words and simply stop to absorb them. They'll get a clearer picture of what is actually happening.Some of us have tried in vain to tell others and indeed myself tried to the extent of diving into MS financial quarterlies for info to educate others here who simply refused to see the forrest for the trees.But in the end it was like pushing water up hill... many simply chose to ignore all the smoke and pretend there was no fire.Hopefully hearing it from you, the last sane and respected voice int he FS wilderness these days, will restart the logic cogs and common sense will return to those who have done their best to avoid it for the past few months.

I can tell you for certain that whether we as a community get on board or not, is not a major concern of theirs. Their eyes are firmly on the market that they are attempting to address with FLIGHT. Like it or not.
You are absolutely correct, we are not their target audience...

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It is only human for us not to like change. Whether or not this change is for the better or worse, we are yet to find out.

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It is only human for us not to like change. Whether or not this change is for the better or worse, we are yet to find out.
Depends. We don't like change if we are content enough with our current situation to not want the alternative. Problem is, often enough the alternative is seen as worse than it actually is. Sometimes the alternative may even turn out to be better in the long run. Especially when you have a choice, why not except the existence of the alternative?

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Tom,thank you for this very informative and interesting piece of history.It caught my attention the one you said:

Dealing with a hostile minority of your anticipated user "base", and having a product to launch and more important things to do, why invest and indeed, waste, that energy?
This is how MS saw the reaction? as a hostile minority? The last 2 weeks there was a total uproar here in the formus and on other forums too.Also:
Their eyes are firmly on the market that they are attempting to address with FLIGHT. Like it or not.
I don't understand what kind of market is that. I am not a market expert but this is how i see it. FLIGHT is released as a free download, little Johnnie is flying around with the spectacular scenery of Hawaii, nice airplane graphics, and of course a nice feeling of flying. So far so good. What is next for little Johnnie? he wont be bored? How many times he will fly around? He will look to do something parallel with flying, because for him flying around at first was interesting but for him now is not enough. I don't even think that in the future he will ever buy an online addon to fullfill the flying experience. Perhaps his father will buy him one for a present but this is it. And what is the end of the story? After some months FLIGHT might be deleted or just being installed on his/her harddisk.I strongly believe that addons are made for us the purists. Addons enhance the experience by putting more realism and realism is equal to simulate something as it is in real life. That is flying IFR/VFR from A to B, practicing flying patterns in good or bad weather on different airplanes.So, if MS targets the little Johnnie market (little Johnnie can be also a grown up individual with no interest at all about aviation) what is the future of this FLIGHT product? Just this simple question that is whirling my mindThank you

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It is only human for us not to like change. Whether or not this change is for the better or worse, we are yet to find out.
If it earns more for Microsoft then it's a change for the better from Microsoft's perspective.

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A quote from Tom's message:My point? If you know you are going to be in front of a hostile audience, why get on the stage in the first place? Close quote.Comment: Only if you have nothing to offer.

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