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[12JUN19] PMDG and the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Question

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    [12JUN19] PMDG and the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Question

    Captains,

    I want to put some initial thoughts out there in order to firmly set expectations with respect to PMDG's development agenda and the just announced Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.

    As always, there are very few facts in the marketplace but plenty of guesses, opinions and hopeful ideas being thrown into threads all over the simsphere. This is a common occurrence borne of human nature and is not indicative of any particular strength or weakness in the sim community. It does tend to lead to herd-mentality taking over and some members of the herd failing completely to discover what the actual facts are before joining in the stampede.

    So this post will serve, I hope, to be the official fact basis for anyone who wants to know exactly what PMDG is thinking with respect to MSFS2020. If anyone offers facts other than the ones contained here, please use this as your basis to correct them. (or a club, if necessary. )

    As of this writing, PMDG knows the following facts based upon published information and direct intelligence gathering:
    • Microsoft has been at work developing a new title to release using the MSFS name.
    • This title and the effort to develop it have been kept under wraps for some time.
    • None of the firms with which we are in contact have or have had any direct discussion with Microsoft about this title.
    • There were some rumors of this title a few months back, but they evaporated without confirmation.

    Based upon history, we know:
    • In 2005 Microsoft began to explore how to monetize the secondary add-on market for themselves.
    • There were multiple leadership, culture and team changes in the years that followed.
    • MS Flight was the ultimate effort by Microsoft to monetize the secondary market by forcing developers such as PMDG to work solely through their marketplace, develop under license restrictions and move customers toward a subscription based model.
    • MS Flight ultimately failed because it missed the core of the sim marketplace, was poorly timed to market and failed to deliver a good flying experience for simmers.
    • PMDG was involved in an effort to purchase the rights to continue developing the core of MSFS along with some partners. This effort failed in favor of Dovetail.
    • We learned during this effort that Microsoft would insist that it had the right to recapture any development done within their core code if they were to decide to re-enter the marketplace. This made the purchase untenable to us, as it meant that Microsoft would always have a leg up to compete with us using our own work.
    • Dovetail eventually tried to approach the simulation market with the same, walled off business model that would force secondary developers to market only through their own portals and under heavy restrictions that would reduce product quality and competition.

    Given these facts above:

    PMDG is taking a "wait and see" approach toward Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. We simply do not have sufficient information to allow a smart business decision to be made with regard to future support and planning for this new title. As of this moment, nobody in our part of the marketplace is even aware if the title will allow for after-market development, how those products will be sold or what restrictions might be in place that are beneficial or not to developers.

    Until these areas are clarified by Microsoft, we simply won't be able to evaluate positively or negatively and thus we will refrain from making any decisions at this time.

    All of that being said- here is my personal opinion:

    Simmers have a history of hyperventilating at the newest and latest preview, even when there are no facts with which to support their excitement. We are seeing this now in the marketplace with some users announcing that "this is a game changer" and declaring the universe moving off it's axis of rotation when they don't even know if the platform will meet their needs as a simmer. I recommend we all simply encourage the developers of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 to double down and do the absolute best that they can, then lets see what comes of it. All of us would love to see a new, modern technology platform that remains open-world to developers like PMDG, but it is highly unlikely (given recent history) that this will happen. I will not be surprised to see this title marketed more toward the game community based upon my historic conversations with Microsoft as they tried to find ways to expand their customer base. I will also not be surprised to find that Microsoft has it's eyes set firmly on raiding the space in which many of your favorite expansions exist: Aircraft, scenery, airports and apps. They are not entering this business sector out of altruism, they are here for profit margins, and the market history in the past has shown again and again that those margins exist in the relationship between the after-market developers and the end user.

    If that marketplace is constructed similarly to the effort with Flight or Dovetail- then it is a horrible thing indeed for customers in the long term. As a consumer I am not so easily led by the nose as many simmers like to be... I have been in this market for a quarter century almost- and I have seen many players come and go. I have seen good business models and bad- and i have tried to help the platform developers understand what they must do to win the core of the market. I have only been surprised rarely by outcomes in this quirky little space we call simming- and that causes me to take a cautious stance with respect to MS's return to our corner of the internet.

    Let us hope the lesson has been learned here- and there will continue to be space for all of us to keep delivering high quality simulation products to you on a range of available platforms.

    Robert S. Randazzo
    PMDG Simulations
    http://www.pmdg.com



    #2
    Anyone have Bill Gates or Satya Nadella phone number? Maybe, I can explain this stuff to them.
    Paul Gugliotta
    United 257 heavy

    Comment


      #3
      Personally I think it speaks volumes that Microsoft didn't even bother to reach out to the developers that have made this hobby worthwhile for so many years...
      Regards,
      Marius

      Comment


        #4
        I wouldn't worry too much about their aftermarket business model. Both Microsoft and Dovetail failed miserably with this in the past. I don't see it succeeding this time around.
        Karsten Sandleben

        Comment


          #5
          "Simmers have a history of hyperventilating" .... you dont say?
          Michael Backes
          ----------------------

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by elmucki View Post
            "Simmers have a history of hyperventilating" .... you dont say?

            Kyle Rodgers
            PMDG Simulations

            Comment


            #7
            I am happy to see PMDG keeping its head cool. For me the video looked cool, but two items in the voice-over/captions kind of damped the feeling: "X-Box" and "Azure AI".

            Bringing the title first to the X-Box indicates to me (agreeing with Robert here) that they are quite likely targeting the gamer crowd more than the hardcore Flight Simmers. (the ones buying PMDG addons) Storage limitations on that platform makes it unlikely you can get NL-2000, BlueSkyScenery, or ORBX TrueEarth like scenery add-ons. Additionally, unless you assume high-quality VR as a platform requirement, I don't see myself handling a Boeing or Airbus airliner on a pretty basic game-controller. Hooking the X-Box up to a home-cockpit is even more of a stretch.

            Secondly, Microsoft is doing great things with Azure as well as AI. My professional life is as a Software Architect, and cloud technology is what I daily come in contact with. However, how Azure's powerful AI technology is going to be of any impact on a Flight Simulator that is used for VFR "look around" flying through the mountains, or IFR airliner "work", is something I have difficulty envisioning. Racing and combat would definitely profit, if only for the automated contestants, as might automated ATC, but you don't want a 777 with AI autopilot, you want to fly that baby yourself! You don't want AI autogen, you want to fly through the Real World (TM)!

            So basically I am waiting for them to show what they actually want to do here, but not really expecting anything that'l draw me away from my current setup.
            Last edited by bert.laverman; 12Jun2019, 16:29.
            Bert Laverman - Software Architect and Developer - Flight Simmer

            Comment


            • Demporkchops
              Demporkchops commented
              Editing a comment
              From what I have seen the title is coming first to PC, the Xbox Gamer Pass is coming to PC its being offered now for $1 and MSFS 2020 will be available on the pass and available for PC first then coming to Xbox later. Was told this info was confirmed. We shall see. Let's hope.

            • tasev1
              tasev1 commented
              Editing a comment
              I disagree with some of this. Just taking the trailer to start, I don't think ORBX / TrueEarth or ActiveSky are products that would actually be required based on the early indications. XPlane 11 runs on handheld devices....Elite Dangerous runs on XBOX.....means nothing for the PC simmer if it is also available on console, which is where the cloud computing ought to come into play. I honestly foresee another MS Flight like product with newer technologies targeting the casual and entry level audience. That's not to say that the experience won't be outstandingly authentic and rich, but I am curious how they will cover ground of profitability and sim together. What they must realise is this product won't be an 'overnight success'...they need to measure their success in 5 to 10 years as many won't leave their current platforms, myself included, no matter how good the promise. Flight could have been successful had they made the changes the community asked for and given it a good decade of development.

            #8
            For sure Microsoft wants to make profits. But I am wondering if they are trying to make profits directly from the flight sim or is it going to be a platform to showcase the Azure AI technology and what it's capable of and trying to profit in the long run from that in which case the new flight simulator would basically be a step towards the big profits and any money made with it is of course a plus but not the primary target.

            This is why I find myself this whole scheme interesting currently. And I agree that we have to wait and see how everything turns out.
            Last edited by Nicrative; 12Jun2019, 16:41.
            Jouka Ahponen

            Comment


              #9
              Well it's alway better to wait and see. Right now the 2020 tentative date is very far. I sure hope they learned from Flight and FSW failure, which both ignored the developpers, and tried to force sales through a channel where they would take a cut.

              I really wish they succeed and get over the previous issues, because competition is always good for the product, it'll drive more innovation. Honestly P3D is fine especially in 64 bits, but it stil relies on the very old base technology that in my opinion prevent them to really make use of the real performance of today's machines. And there is so much that could also improved very easily. For exampel I always wondered why they never even made some kind of layers for sceneries with various level of priority, like mesh, world, continent, country, city, airport (I'm making thing here) but so that it's not really as copmplicated as now to order things, as a mesh will always be the very first thing, and airport the smaller piece of scenery.
              Aurelien Vandoorine

              Comment


                #10
                Robert thanks for posting this. Hopefully it will put things to rest and folks can move on.

                “We learned during this effort that Microsoft would insist that it had the right to recapture any development done within their core code if they were to decide to re-enter the marketplace.” I wonder if this means P3D will be put out being they purchased the source code and engine from MS. That’s worry-sum. I’m a PMDG customer and where ever PMDG goes I’ll follow.
                Scott Berge
                Proud PMDG 737NGX owner

                Comment


                  #11
                  Scott,

                  The license of ESP and the purchase of the rights to continue developing the FSX/Flight engine are very different. In the case of prepar3D, it is developed based upon a license for the platform that was designed to be used precisely in the manner in which Lockheed Martin is using it. I am not aware of there being a recapture clause in that agreement and i doubt Lockheed would have accepted one.

                  I am not concerned about the two watering each other down or creating a point of friction between them.

                  In dovetail's case, I think Microsoft was at risk of returning to the entertainment sphere all along and this was why they inserted the clause. Tt would really have hurt DTG had this happened after their release.
                  Robert S. Randazzo
                  PMDG Simulations
                  http://www.pmdg.com


                  Comment


                    #12
                    Originally posted by bert.laverman View Post
                    Bringing the title first to the X-Box indicates to me (agreeing with Robert here) that they are quite likely targeting the gamer crowd more than the hardcore Flight Simmers.
                    Pretty sure it was mentioned that PC would be first and Xbox to come sometime a while after.

                    Originally posted by bert.laverman View Post
                    Storage limitations on that platform makes it unlikely you can get NL-2000, BlueSkyScenery, or ORBX TrueEarth like scenery add-ons.
                    Agreed, but if the scenery turns out to be as good as that trailer (which I'm sure we're all skeptical about anyways, but just look at google earth flight sim) then I see no real need to spend extra on any of those types of add-ons. Just my 2 cents. Now maybe the issue would be Add-on aircraft (Like, maybe, PMDG? ) or airports. But realistically, if you're going to be building the PC version first, I think it'll be the Xbox port that will get chopped down to bare bones or have increased limitations on what can be done within the sim? Obviously no one knows what MS is doing at this point but that is the conclusion that I would come to.
                    Last edited by Justin; 12Jun2019, 17:32.
                    Justin Austin

                    Comment


                      #13
                      Personally, I'm being cautiously optimistic. It'd be very strange if Microsoft made the same mistake twice (three times if you include DTFS' failure). Though I do wonder if this will spur MS to have LM enforce their EULA.

                      Darrol
                      Last edited by dlrk; 12Jun2019, 17:40.

                      Comment


                        #14
                        Originally posted by StachM View Post
                        Personally I think it speaks volumes that Microsoft didn't even bother to reach out to the developers that have made this hobby worthwhile for so many years...
                        One thing I find fascinating is the rancor in which a lot of us hold Microsoft and Lockheed Martin. I am not sure about the XPlane guys but I can only imagine it's similar. In my opinion this is NOT a chicken and egg scenario. The truth is that we would not have PMDG, Aerosoft, Flight Labs, Taxi2Gate, FSDT, Flight Beam, Latin VFR, etc etc etc, without MSFS and P3D. It really is that simple. If you are of my age and started simming with the orginal FS from BAO and have used every sim out there you know this to be reality. All the "developers" exist because of the base sim packages.

                        As we have always seen, it is the developers who have been able to unlock hidden potential, however the potential was always there. I am not going to argue the merits of a FS store or a P3D store. I believe that XPlane does something like that already, but again, I am not a XPlane guy so I don't know.

                        As a community we should be excited about the potential of MSFS2020. That does not mean that I am going to jump on the 20202 bandwagon and buy it right after release or even at all. What it should do is offer another choice. Choice is good. PMDG may or may not develope for that platform. Either way it will all be ok. What ever decisions PMDG or others make with regard to any new platform will turn out to be good for the community. Other developers will appear.

                        It is simple and comes down to this and only this. If there is a market (a market is where there is a desire/need for a product or service for which we are willing to part with money) and if the market will create some level of wealth for a company owner and jobs for employees, the desires and needs will be met.

                        As consumers, our only part in this is to determine which products meet our individual needs/desires and consume.

                        All the other noise we create as consumers is pretty much just that, noise, and serves no purpose other than to vent. The number of forum posts (on every forum) that boail down to "I hate Microsoft", "I hate Lockheed Martin", "I hate Laminar Research" et al, are frankly, stupid. Without those base products, with all their perceived or real warts, are the only reason our hobby exists. Let's be honest, if all the developers were to never have appeared, we would all be flying the default 737 from default airport A to default airport B and loving every minute of it. Even if it still looked like this
                        T80-FS1-1.gif
                        Attached Files
                        Mark Crabtree AAL3 | VP-HR

                        Comment


                          #15
                          Originally posted by rsrandazzo View Post
                          Captains,

                          I will not be surprised to see this title marketed more toward the game community based upon my historic conversations with Microsoft as they tried to find ways to expand their customer base. I will also not be surprised to find that Microsoft has it's eyes set firmly on raiding the space in which many of your favorite expansions exist: Aircraft, scenery, airports and apps. They are not entering this business sector out of altruism, they are here for profit margins, and the market history in the past has shown again and again that those margins exist in the relationship between the after-market developers and the end user.
                          I readily admit that I have never spent considerable time to "research" or better understand the history of Microsoft, LM, Dovetail, etc. Instead, I have long-since assumed that the basic issue was that Microsoft (and others like Dovetail) had the idea of being the next Apple of flight sim. That is, where the sim would include it's own iTunes / AppStore wherein all third-party add-ons could only be purchased, and that MSFT would take a cut of these purchases. In other words, this is what I assume Rob means when he says "raiding the space."

                          Let's assume that Microsoft agrees with PMDG (and for that matter, myself, and likely all other top-tier developers) that the market / profit-margin exists in the third-party to customer arena. That leaves only two obvious options: (1) create the add-ons yourself or (2) as discussed above, control access to them (or a mix of both). Option 1 includes going out and acquiring the products or entire companies, which is possible, but I would guess highly unlikely because it seems like an enormous investment that would require a big time ROI in the eyes of Microsoft execs. Option 2 seems to be the most plausible strategy. All of this I imagine evokes a "tell me something I didn't know" ... which brings me to my point.

                          "Wait and see" seems to be the official message or PMDG. This is professional, courteous, and makes the most sense. But I think it is VERY easy to underestimate the true size of this market. Microsoft has to develop a simulation platform that is, dare I say, revolutionary. Something that is truly next generation in every category AND is such a breakthrough that it creates its own categories. Otherwise, there is Prepar3d, XPlane, and now Flight SImulator. Just a third wheel back at the original house party trying to build a product that convinces third parties to INVEST and build products for the platform and also convinces consumers to make the switch (back). X-Plane has been facing market entry hurdles for years. Microsoft's attempt IMHO would be exponentially more difficult. This "comeback" would be transpiring in a market that is well-informed and opinionated. In other words, they would not be entering a skeptical market, but rather a market of providers and consumers that is VERY hostile to Microsoft's own existence. You Microsoft guys and gals enjoy that one.

                          I just can't get there. I don't think it's reasonable for one second to think that this sim will be on such a new level that it can operate on the hardware of the desktops we see today and that of xbox.

                          I felt compelled to vomit all of this out because I usually AM that guy - I'm the one that is always "wait and see." For good reason. But not here. What's that Microsoft? A new flight simulator? Hard pass.


                          Last edited by wde12; 12Jun2019, 18:41.
                          William Ezzell
                          KATL

                          Comment


                            #16
                            Originally posted by Paulyg123 View Post
                            Anyone have Bill Gates or Satya Nadella phone number? Maybe, I can explain this stuff to them.
                            I recall rumors back around the time of disbanding of Aces (about 10 years ago now? wow.) that MSFS platform was a bit of a pet project for Bill, but with him leaving MS executive positions and the crisis, there was just no more space for pet projects.
                            Would be nice to have Satya Nadella onboard though.

                            Originally posted by Paulyg123 View Post
                            Anyone have Bill Gates or Satya Nadella phone number? Maybe, I can explain this stuff to them.
                            This is somewhat of a worry. While I have no qualms about my license (I pay for a dev license and I am still a flightsim dev, although now dormant), I can see how this could cause an issue, especially if LM tightens the bolt around the academic license and maybe even allows it only for students in aviation-related courses...
                            --Peter Fabian
                            RTFM.jpg

                            Comment


                              #17
                              Best case scenario (IMHO): Microsoft releases FS2020 with all necessary support for third party developers to get into it, via SDK and whatever more is welcomed. Given the apparent level of breakup everything will have to start from scratch, pretty much like what happened when FS 5 was released, a burden for sure, but seems to be a fair price to pay and see nowadays' hardware capabilities being vastly better utilised.
                              One thing looks obvious to me. The short video released is utterly beautiful, but it has to be limited to a very small geographical area and the airliners shown are most probably simple models without the goodies already available today in other platforms.
                              Regards,

                              Wanthuyr Filho

                              Comment


                                #18
                                Originally posted by rsrandazzo View Post
                                None of the firms with which we are in contact have or have had any direct discussion with Microsoft about this title.
                                Well companies that are under heavy NDA will never talk to PMDG about their contacts with Microsoft.
                                So I don’t agree with you on this point. We simply don’t know...
                                Last edited by Matthijs; 12Jun2019, 20:14.
                                Kind Regards, Matthijs Dam

                                Comment


                                  #19
                                  But this is new technology platform.
                                  And Lockheed it not on the reluctant side of AI, satellite tech and technology as such....

                                  So maybe Prepar3D V5 could be similar to MS2020... Why not?



                                  Regards Jens
                                  Jens Michlas
                                  Frederiksberg, Greater Copenhagen - Denmark

                                  Trying and fought to keep my sim in air since 2000

                                  Comment


                                    #20
                                    Please don’t make us pay again...

                                    Comment


                                      #21
                                      Originally posted by Minien View Post
                                      Please don’t make us pay again...
                                      This is a false and inflammatory statement. In the history of the hobby no one had ever been forced to pay for anything. I'm not sure when it became expected that a company would develope anything for free. You will always pay either in money or time for anything. Believe me your time is worth more than what you may pay, even assuming you have the expertise. If you had the expertise you would be creating something for others to buy.
                                      Mark Crabtree AAL3 | VP-HR

                                      Comment


                                        #22
                                        I have a slight disagreement that the walled-off through the developer store necessarily equates to less competition and worse addons.

                                        With regards to MS Flight and Dovetail, it's definitely a problem and leads to either no addons being made (ms-flight) or a ton of low-quality money grabbing addons (Dovetail's Train Sim).

                                        However, the other side of the coin is DCS - Eagle Dynamics have shown that you can get incredibly high quality, super detailed, and most importantly reasonably priced addons through a first-party locked down store. You just have to guarantee a large enough market - and I think MS are banking on creating a large enough market to be able to copy this model.

                                        Now I admit there are clear differences between DCS - a combat focused simulator with a mix of first party and third party addons and close relationships between Eagle Dynamics and the third party devs. But, they've shown the model works, and it's not unreasonable to think MS could copy this approach.

                                        Just my two cents, anyway.

                                        -Steven
                                        Steven Agre

                                        Comment


                                          #23
                                          As usual with MS, the reality of the product will not equal the marketing hype that its promoted with.

                                          Comment


                                            #24
                                            Originally posted by krodgers View Post

                                            Yikes!
                                            Last edited by Ausflight; 12Jun2019, 23:40.
                                            Danny Z. Cebis

                                            Comment


                                              #25
                                              Originally posted by dlrk View Post
                                              Though I do wonder if this will spur MS to have LM enforce their EULA.
                                              I'm sure it will be just like when you wondered if FSW would spur Dovetail to have LM enforce their EULA. Then when FSW tanked you all wondered whether Dovetail would sue LM for EULA violations. Still waiting.... It's all nonsense and a fake controversy.
                                              Troy Krajancic

                                              Comment


                                                #26
                                                "Hyperventilating" could even be an understatement. I've seen at least one Youtuber dissect and analyze the official trailer on a frame by frame basis! Good to see the enthusiasm for flight sim remains strong though. I've signed up to the insider program.
                                                Troy Krajancic

                                                Comment


                                                  #27
                                                  Originally posted by dlrk View Post
                                                  Personally, I'm being cautiously optimistic. It'd be very strange if Microsoft made the same mistake twice (three times if you include DTFS' failure). Though I do wonder if this will spur MS to have LM enforce their EULA.

                                                  Darrol
                                                  This ∆

                                                  I could be wrong, but I seem to remember hearing that MS required certain parts of the EULA be present. Specifically that P3D not be used for entertainment. I say this as it doesn't make too much sense for LM to create their own EULA that would limit their sales. (After all the whole reason any business exists is to make a profit). So MS wasn't insisting that LM enforce the EULA. MS might not be able to directly use LM's code but they can certainly learn from it. Once MS has "used" LM they can now insist that LM enforce the EULA and drive sales to their own platform

                                                  Let the conspiracy theory begin.......
                                                  Michael Sill

                                                  Comment


                                                    #28
                                                    Originally posted by DrJ1 View Post
                                                    Let the conspiracy theory begin.......
                                                    Let's not. Products succeed or fail based on their own merits and business model. Just as RSR explained above. Whether MSFS2020 succeeds or fails will have ZERO to do with P3D or any other sim or EULA.
                                                    Last edited by Troy; 13Jun2019, 02:48.
                                                    Troy Krajancic

                                                    Comment


                                                    • DrJ1
                                                      DrJ1 commented
                                                      Editing a comment
                                                      ZERO to do with it....... Hardly. I'm sure XP would love your absolute to be true

                                                    #29
                                                    "Hyperventilating"? We're like William Shakespeare; "Much Ado About Nothing" till, as Captain RSR suggests, more is known. Thank you Sir for such an informative piece so early in the saga!
                                                    But for sure, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to MS from the days of flying on a Mac SE from Seattle to Everett with a magnifying glass in one hand and the mouse in the other. Then to LM for taking up the torch. And of course to PMDG for their part in now flying to anywhere from anywhere with "real" data from Navigraph (with fond memories of SimCharts from Jeppesen), and weather from HiFi. And all this at 40+ FPS on a Samsung 34" curved monitor without a magnifying glass.
                                                    But MS and LM have both understood now and in their respective pasts, that support from the community is pretty much the make or break of any project.
                                                    Thank you to all!
                                                    Chris Stanley VTCC

                                                    Comment


                                                      #30
                                                      I have to say that I for one, am spoiled by the joy of flying in a simulated world in high fidelity aircraft (PMDG, A2...). We all have the option of choosing a few different platforms to enjoy our simulated flying careers. Those of us who have been around for awhile have seem many simulators of flight come and go. Many of which seemed to have the potential of the best sliced bread. If you are like me, you tried (and I mean all in) them all. In the end, always coming back to MSFS because it was the best mousetrap. We voted with our dollars and developers that gave us what we wanted and needed. I seriously have withdrawal symptoms when I have software or hardware issues that preclude me from "flying".

                                                      As Captain Randazzo suggested, it is a wait and see what MSFS 2020 is all about. In the meantime, I will setup all of my support apps for flight planning and monitoring, weather, and heavy iron, run my checklists and fly all over the simulated world, in real time, enjoying every minute.

                                                      Rob Roberson
                                                      Rotorcraft-Helicopter
                                                      SEL-MEL Airplane Instrument

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