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Microsoft - the great enigma? And it's continued failures.

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First some background:

 

As a software engineer I started my youth working in the world of Digital Research CP/M (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP/M-86) - pre-DOS days. I've watched Microsoft evolve from the very beginning -- they were always the "less expensive" option and being a starving student of the day and working my way thru university (no free-pass parental handouts here) it was my only real option. However, prior to getting on board (in terms of platform) with Microsoft/Intel I was working the TRS-80 color computer (circa 1981 - again, pretty much took every penny I had that wasn't used for education and basic living expenses) -- I was seriously hooked -- would work all day and night sometimes forgetting to eat. I loved what I did, I loved everything about coding from design to end result, it was a real sense of accomplishment ... from nothing I created something.

 

After university, it wasn't a direct cut into programming professionally, I sorta had to work my way around other "computer related" jobs, but not what I would consider real programming jobs ... fortunately it was a short diversion (about 2 years) until I finally got involved in smaller companies that would allow me to do what I loved to do (yes I played the big corporate game and hated every minute of it).

 

So there I was happily coding away (VB, C, Pascal, PC COBOL, even some Assembler) on a Microsoft based PC platform in a professional environment ... I saw some really cool stuff evolve from Microsoft for about 2 decades. Then things started to get strange right around 2000, Microsoft started to get "confused" and/or paranoid (hard to say which or maybe both) ... all kinds of similar yet slightly different technologies were being tossed out at developers. Keeping up was impossible ... and sadly most of the new technologies were clearly only about 50-60% "done" -- they were missing significant features and/or restricted by "sandbox" security implementations.

 

Web development was horrible ... it was "code de jour" with Microsoft expecting developers to drop everything and go the "new way" of doing things because this IS the future -- this was happening almost every 2 months. The biggest problem with all these new similar yet slightly different technologies is that they weren't really solving any existing problems. They were more about strategic markets that would benefit Microsoft and less about what developers wanted to see. It was as if internally the various Microsoft development groups/departments were at war with each other trying to bring about the "dominant" way to proceed with Microsoft's future. The end result to the rest of us "real world" developers was a clear case of manipulation for the benefit of Microsoft and nothing to do with what we want to move our the companies we work for forward.

 

Now how does this relate to FSX? It relates by this quote from Wiki (which is dead on accurate):

 

According to former ACES employee Phil Taylor, the shutdown was not due to sales performance of FSX, but due to management issues and delays in project delivery, combined with increased demand for staff.

 

Microsoft has become confused, they rarely understand what they have and how to best use it. They are a company of very intelligent people being lead by someone that doesn't understand how to get the best out of that intelligence. Ballmer allow the inter-department fighting because he thought it was good for motivation/innovation ... the end result has been a string of failure after failure after failure as products are rushed to market. Closing Ace's and then re-opening development on MS Flight is a classic example of just how confused Microsoft are.

 

Some of you probably didn't even know the lead for Windows 8 ending up quitting Microsoft or was asked to leave (hard to say). http://www.tomshardware.com/news/steven-sinofsky-windows-tami-reller-julie-larson-green,19063.html This is just yet another sign of a company that isn't being managed well.

 

My hunch is we'd be on FS 12 right now if it weren't for Ballmer and his inability to manage his company.

 

Rob.

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Well said,look at windows 8 its work nice on a tablet but not on a pc.

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You got a point there.

 

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2

 

 

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Well said,look at windows 8 its work nice on a tablet but not on a pc.

 

Yes, clearly it is incompatible with a PC. That's why I have had very minimal, if not no issues at all since I got it back in December. Windows 8 is the same as Windows operating system we've used for years, but with much better performance, a cleaner UI, and the Metro start screen.

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My hunch is we'd be on FS 12 right now if it weren't for Ballmer and his inability to manage his company.

 

Rob.

 

Rob, I just read about an interview with Bill Gates that revealed that he is very disappointed with the course that Microsoft is taking with mobile computing now, saying that it is not moving forward fast enough. This, I'm sure, is a result of exactly what you are talking about in your post.

If Bill Gates feels the need to speak out about this aspect of Microsoft's lack of good organization, I can assume it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Microsoft Flight was definitely a great display of gross ineptitude on the part of Microsoft.

Like the great Pan Am World Airways and Juan T. Trippe, I believe this situation is another example of the corporation being living part or extension of its creator. When the visionary, founder and creator of the corporation retires and leaves, the corporation stagnates, deflates and dies away, no matter how glorious its history.

This doesn't always have to be the case. Obviously Disney World is still going strong. But many times it is.

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Beating that dead horse with a stick again and this has nothing to do with FSX.

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Then things started to get strange right around 2000,

 

From the wiki article on Bill Gates:

 

Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000.

 

Maybe it's just a coincidence.

 

Your assessment of Microsoft pretty much mirrors my own experiences. I retired about 2000, but even before that Windows development was just something I'd rather avoid. It was as if the code had been intentionally obfuscated and made much more complex than necessary. That was when all you really needed was a background in C++. Now days it looks like you have to be an expert in a dozen technologies just to get an entry level position.

 

Compare the "hello world" program written in the Unix X Window system to the same thing in Microsoft. The first is less than a page of code, can easily be written from scratch, and is recognizable C code. The second is several pages, requires the assistance of a program to set up the framework, and it's not obvious what language it's written in. And the functionality is the same.

 

Hook

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...this has nothing to do with FSX.

 

True, but its a conversation about computers and operating systems - something of interest ( or at least , relevance ) to all of us.

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True, but its a conversation about computers and operating systems - something of interest ( or at least , relevance ) to all of us.

 

So why is this in the FSX Forum?

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Beating that dead horse with a stick again and this has nothing to do with FSX

 

I beg to differ -- this has a lot to do with Flight Simulation from Microsoft (and if they will ever produce another one). How can you say the company that produced FSX has nothing to do with FSX? FSX didn't end because of a low sales numbers, a fallacy that many here seem to think was the case -- it was not. The potential market isn't small, if it were, there wouldn't be so so many 3rd party developers around today.

 

Windows 8 is the same as Windows operating system we've used for years, but with much better performance, a cleaner UI, and the Metro start screen.

 

Define same? Agree that the code base used to produce Windows 8 was Windows 7 which was Vista which was based on Windows 2003 SP1.

 

However, Windows 8 from a UI perspective it's a big failure (almost 6 months after release and it has <2% market - that IS worse than Vista covering the same time period and Vista had a smaller total potential of computers vs. today) for desktop computing.

 

But more importantly shouldn't you be asking the question "why is Windows 8 the same operating system we've used for years?". I think this is a BIG POINT you are missing ... mobile computing environments warrant a specific path, they don't work well as a "unified" path -- desktop and mobile will always be different, yes they have "cross-overs" but they are significantly different enough to be separate development paths. Rather than innovating two distinct environments, they compromised both -- you are not seeing what "could have been" on the desktop environment, you are only seeing "it's the same". This compromise was for Microsoft's benefit and nothing to do with what desktop users want.

 

There are many aspect of an operating system that can be innovated/improved without introducing drastic UI changes. Here is a big one for example; have the ability to swap out a motherboard and CPU without changing anything else (your existing drives and software all remain) ... you simply boot back up once the parts are changed out and Windows will know how to deal with the hardware changes and remove and replace drivers (be it not optimized ones). This IS technically possible for an OS and probably what MANY MANY users would love to have rather than re-install all their software from scratch again -- in the FSX environment this could be weeks worth of work.

 

For the most part (not all) you can make Windows 8 go back to looking like Windows 7 -- but that's not exactly moving forward is it? It's doing some work to get more of the same for $50 (or whatever the cost is up to now).

 

This wasn't meant to be a debate about Windows 8, as far as I'm concerned that debate is dead and consumer market has already made it's mind up and it's not in favor of Windows 8. Unless Ballmer is removed and there is a BIG executive shake-up at Microsoft, we'll NEVER see another Flight Simulation product from Microsoft ... and not because of demand ... because of internal failings and counter productive departmental battles with no "true leader" to move the company forward.

 

Sadly the failure of MS Flight was the final nail in coffin in terms of Microsoft ever producing/funding another Flight Simulator again (come back to this thread in 10 years and see if I'm right).

 

Rob, I just read about an interview with Bill Gates that revealed that he is very disappointed with the course that Microsoft is taking with mobile computing now, saying that it is not moving forward fast enough.

 

Bill Gates has never said anything that could even be hinted as "negative" towards Ballmer/Microsoft until very recently ... I think the talent Bill had was leadership, he would make the decision. However, Ballmer would stay removed and let his execs battle it out for supremacy thinking that would motivate and innovate ... it had the exact opposite result.

 

The development tools have suffered A LOT because of this inter-department battles, you should look a Visual Studio 2012 ... it's horrible!! Even the Windows 8 UI crew that passed the specs over to Visual Studio team were shocked to see the end results of VS 2012 -- a classic example of right hand telling the left hand what to do and the left hand not saying "but this makes no sense", and just goes ahead and tries to make the best of it.

 

And then there is .NET 4.5 Framework, there is nothing in it to make development faster, but their is a lot added for Windows Store.

 

And it wasn't until VS 2012 we got some better threading support (Parallel watch window and GPU threads window) ... 2012!! Multi-threading isn't a "new concept" it's been around for a long time now but Microsoft have dragged their feet supporting it.

 

I could go on and on and on about development tools that could have be available but aren't.

 

Compare the "hello world" program written in the Unix X Window system to the same thing in Microsoft. The first is less than a page of code, can easily be written from scratch, and is recognizable C code. The second is several pages, requires the assistance of a program to set up the framework, and it's not obvious what language it's written in. And the functionality is the same.

 

Absolutely agree.

 

So why is this in the FSX Forum?

 

How about you tell us your real issue with this being in the FSX forum?

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On the flipside of this discussion is the fact that VS2012 is simply awesome! But I agree with the OP that MS management is the culprit and not the MS staff and tools.

 

Nothing new IMO.

 

Cheers

jja

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How about you tell us your real issue with this being in the FSX forum?

 

Because it has absolutely nothing to do with FSX, no matter how you spin it. Maybe a Microsoft user group.

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Because it has absolutely nothing to do with FSX, no matter how you spin it. Maybe a Microsoft user group.

 

I guess we disagree, but if you feel it needs removing then ask the Admins and let them decide.

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Any way I look at it - not really a direct link to FSX (not specifically dealing with FSX anyway - it does look at the bigger picture however as a whole).

A very interesting topic non-the-less and indirectly (or to put it better 'in a more subtle way') it is connected to FSX, as well as Flight and all MS products.

 

Hope you don't mind Rob, but I think it would be better to move this one to Hanger Chat. Also thanks for posting your thoughts and this thread, its an interesting read.

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It is a very interesting topic and it does open up some understanding into what ended development of FSX and the botched attempt at the poor excuse called Flight.

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So why is this in the FSX Forum?

 

Its in a forum called 'Hangar Chat' - a forum for just general chat, I believe. And the opening post asks 'How does this relate to FSX ?...and then goes on to answer that.

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Hope you don't mind Rob, but I think it would be better to move this one to Hanger Chat. Also thanks for posting your thoughts and this thread, its an interesting read.

 

Don't mind at all.

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I disagree with the statement that the decision by Microsoft to cancel it's flight simulator development had nothing to do with demand. Like it or not even FSX was not a big seller, certainly not in comparison to other games and most likely not enough to justify the development cost.

 

FSX was a massive upgrade over FS2004, but to develop further a complete code renovation was required, and an element of that was shown in Flight. Ultimately though, to develop a sim to today's standards would be a cost that would be completely unjustifiable. You mention that 3rd party developers wouldn't exist unless FSX was very successful, but most publishers operate on tiny margins. OrbX still isn't profitable (by Jon Venema's own admission). Very few developers are in the business for the money.

 

Surely the low adoption rate of Flight (a free platform) tells you everything you need to know.

 

Microsoft won't make another sim - the only hope is that their licensing agreement with Lockheed Martin develops to a point where general use is permitted, but even then I doubt LM's goals would be in line with our desires.

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It is now Paul, after I sent in a Report.

 

Obviously bored Jim.

 

Jas

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Obviously bored Jim.

 

Jas

 

Obviously I know a FSX thread when I see one.

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I disagree with the statement that the decision by Microsoft to cancel it's flight simulator development had nothing to do with demand. Like it or not even FSX was not a big seller, certainly not in comparison to other games and most likely not enough to justify the development cost.

 

FSX was a massive upgrade over FS2004, but to develop further a complete code renovation was required, and an element of that was shown in Flight.

Considering that FSvNext was already nearing the end of the Alpha testing, and less than a few months from Beta testing, what was the sense in closing down the project, firing the staff, then paying six to stay long enough to archive all of the already completed work?

 

It would have cost less to complete FSvNext than it did to start from scratch on the failed Flight paradigm.

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For those that haven't read it, this is a good article covering Microsoft's performance and changes over the past 10 years.

 

http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/08/microsoft-lost-mojo-steve-ballmer

 

Ballmer is good at dismissing products that MS ends up having to catch up to.

 

http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/30/3931846/steve-ballmer-on-small-dropbox-users-interview

 

Don't forget to check out the pricing model MS is using for Office 2013. It's all about trying to force people into a subscription model that no one other than the bean counters at MS wants. At least at the $100/year price. Good news for competitors though.

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Considering that FSvNext was already nearing the end of the Alpha testing, and less than a few months from Beta testing, what was the sense in closing down the project, firing the staff, then paying six to stay long enough to archive all of the already completed work?

 

It would have cost less to complete FSvNext than it did to start from scratch on the failed Flight paradigm.

 

Whilst I don't know the intricacies of the process and how far FSvNext was developed, the fact that it was late in the development process doesn't save it from critical review.

 

It's difficult to have conversations on here given that you obviously know more than I do but can't discuss it openly. Regardless, I imagine that a lot of the work from FSvNext went into Flight anyway, and the fact that it was canned at such a late stage gives an indication into what they expected. I'm sure you'll agree that FS development is no money-spinner.

 

My understanding is that MSFS was never a financial success for MS, and that it took the backing of Bill Gates to keep it running for as long as it did.

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I disagree with the statement that the decision by Microsoft to cancel it's flight simulator development had nothing to do with demand.

 

It was Phil Taylor (FSX PM) who suggested it wasn't sales problem. Also, one of the Aces team indicate they reached the 1,000,000 sales mark (that was a long long time ago) -- which isn't too shabby and Microsoft considers anything over 1,000,000 sold (in the game world) as a financial success.

 

MS Flight was a classic example of Microsoft executives not understanding what they had with FSX -- what is in MS Flight that the "casual" gamer/simmer doesn't already have in FSX? FSX has an easy mode (turn realism way down), it has "adventures", you can just hop into an FSX aircraft and go fly ... so it was already available to the "casual" gamer. The only way I could understand a decision to give MS Flight funding when they already have a product that could do the same, is if that executive giving the go ahead didn't look at what FSX was about ... didn't understand the support community, the 3rd party community, etc. etc.

 

Microsoft did the same with Age of Empires, a huge financial success for them (all expansions in the AoE series net 15,000,000 sales) with a grow community base and then they just stopped at AoE III ... nobody knows why ... and you guessed it, several years later Microsoft go and produce Age of Empires online ... play for free but you'll need to pay if you want to actually play beyond a tiny world ... and guess what, Microsoft cut funding for that also (no more new content to be produced). Again, Microsoft have transformed a successful product into a failure -- again, a complete lack of understanding what they have and how to best move it forward.

 

It a rinse and repeat cycle with absolutely NOTHING being learned by their failures -- just speculation that is ultimately wrong and sends them off in to another direction of failure.

 

Ballmer is good at dismissing products that MS ends up having to catch up to.

 

Agree -- I recall him laughing hysterically when interviewed (on TV) regarding the iPhone (this was very early days of the first iPhone) ... quote "nobody is going to pay that much money for a phone". Again, complete lack of understanding, knowing the market, and vision. You would think that someone who draws that much money would be a little more "in tune" with the computing market, the mobile market ... I mean, that is one of his primary responsibilities as CEO.

 

Here is that Ballmer interview:

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