Don’t skip Vista — please!

February 11, 2009

Thinking of going straight from your trusted old Windows XP to Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system, bypassing the poorly received Vista?

See you later, Flight Simulator

January 26, 2009

After more than 25 years of flying high near the top of Microsoft’s PC game portfolio, the venerable Flight Simulator franchise has quietly expired.Perhaps making way for younger, flashier — and far better-selling — productions such as the gargantuan “Halo” series on the Xbox, Microsoft is shutting down ACES studio as part of its biggest-ever wave of layoffs, effectively killing off Flight Simulator for now and perhaps for good.The gaming world greeted the news with sadness tinged with nostalgia.Once lauded as the gaming industry’s benchmark for cutting-edge games performance, Flight Simulator was born in the early 1980s and gradually impressed PC afficionados with its heightened realism and groundbreaking graphics. That realism came with a price, as the game never caught on with a mass market that in the 1990s began to hoover up more visceral, faster-moving first-person experiences such as iD’s “Doom” first-person shooter.Case in point from a casual gamer: I still remember the thrill that coursed through me the day when, after reading a complex series of instructions and numerous tries over several weeks, I finally got my plane off the ground and began coasting around a flat, barren landscape of shifting pixels. About 15 minutes later, I exited the game. I never even tried to land.Nevertheless, the game — which games site Gamespot.com called “realistic enough to be used for real-life flight training” but “on most systems, at anything other than the lowest of the game’s graphics settings, the simulation has significant performance issues” — commands a devoted following among a niche of hard-core simulation fans.Partly in an effort to win over more casual gamers, ACES tacked on goal-oriented missions to its last Flight Simulator iteration, such as playing the role of a stunt pilot trying to land on a moving bus or racing a jet-powered truck.Now, ACES and their game have become a little-noticed casualty of Microsoft’s effort to cut 5,000 jobs to offset slowing growth in the midst of an industry downturn. Will the game ever be resurrected in another form? Is Microsoft shifting its resources toward the hot-selling Xbox, which racked up record sales in the last quarter? The firm is playing its cards close to the vest.Microsoft “is making adjustments within our business to align our people against our highest priorities, and the closure of Aces Studio is once of those changes. You should expect us to continue to invest in enabling great LIVE experiences on Windows, including flying games, but we have nothing additional to announce around Flight Simulator specifically at this time,” spokeswoman Kelda Rericha said. “Xbox 360 had its biggest year ever and these changes are not directly related to the performance of the business. The realignments of headcount are directly intended to strengthen the Xbox 360 platform, including Games for Windows.”(Photo: Gamespot)Writing and reporting by Edwin Chan

Oh Microsoft, how the times change!

January 22, 2009

Paul Allen (left) and Bill Gates Oct. 19, 1981

1975

Microsoft (then spelled “Micro Soft”) is founded by William “Bill” Gates, a 20-year-old Harvard dropout, and Paul Allen, his 22-year-old school chum. They begin selling its first product, a BASIC programming language interpreter.

Microsoft to cut more jobs?

January 22, 2009

The world’s largest software firm is cutting 5,000 jobs as it faces the worst economic crisis in its 34-year history. 

There’s Apple… and there’s Microsoft

January 22, 2009

It’s a tale of two companies in the technology world on Thursday. There’s Apple, whose quarterly profit beat expectations on strong iPod and Mac computer sales. And then there’s Microsoft, whose dismal earnings sent shockwaves through financial markets.

CES: Ford turns hip with Eva

January 10, 2009

Ford CEO Alan Mulally unveiled new features of its voice-command activated in-car system Sync yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, highlighting its connectivity with a driver’s other devices, including cell phones and personal computers.

Obama greenlights analog TV for another season

January 9, 2009

After all the excitement, endless public service announcement ads and electronics retailers salivating over anticipated high-definition TV sales, it turns out that the United States might not be switching to digital television just yet.

Microsoft, Yahoo, restless pigeons and balloons

January 8, 2009

Have you ever watched pigeons almost take flight as someone approaches, but after a brief flapping of wings decide to sit tight? That was the sense we got from reading the stories that knocked down the latest rumor about who will buy Internet search company Yahoo.

CES: Microsoft’s Robbie Bach speaks

January 8, 2009

Robbie Bach, President of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, sat down to talk to Reuters at CES in Las Vegas, ahead of the big keynote address by CEO Steve Ballmer. Topics discussed ranged from the Windows 7 beta and eventual launch, Microsoft’s mobile search deal with Verizon, and how the tough economic environment is affecting the company.

Google’s Chrome out of beta, but only Windows-friendly

December 11, 2008

Google has decided its Chrome Web browser is all grown up-or. Or at least it has outgrown its beta label.