Despite laying off Flight Simulator team, Microsoft still 'committed to flying games'

It may appear in some form as Internet game, or for Xbox users

Microsoft Corp. today confirmed swirling rumors that Thursday's layoffs claimed the developer team behind its venerable Flight Simulator game.

The software maker declined to confirm whether the 27-year-old "FlightSim" product was being permanently grounded, but it hinted that FlightSim or technology from the game would re-appear in an Internet version for Windows and Xbox users.

"Regarding the future of Flight Simulator, all we're announcing at this time is that we are committed to flying games," said a Microsoft spokeswoman via e-mail. "You should expect us to continue to invest in enabling great LIVE experiences on Windows, including flying games, but we have nothing to announce around Flight Simulator specifically at this time."

The spokeswoman confirmed that as part of Thursday's layoff of 1,400 employees, Microsoft closed the ACES Studio that produced FlightSim. She attributed it to restructuring by Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business that "followed our annual strategy review process."

News about ACES' closure was first reported late Thursday by gaming news site Gamasutra.

Flight Simulator has often been called the longest-running game franchise on the PC. According to Wikipedia, Flight Simulator has been marketed by Microsoft for the PC continuously since 1982. Earlier versions were released for the Apple II and Tandy TRS-80 as early as 1980.

Bill Gates licensed Flight Simulator from its original developer, subLogic, reportedly after reading a book about flying small aircraft.

The latest version, Flight Simulator X, was released in 2006. Microsoft was working on an update, according to Gamasutra.

The visual simulation software underlying Flight Simulator was also being targeted for business use.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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