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From the Field: Microsoft Move To Boost Options

By R&W Staff | February 1, 2008

Microsoft’s plans for a new visual-simulation platform should generate additional, relatively inexpensive, computer-based training aids for pilots.

The computer giant was scheduled last month to release Microsoft ESP, a software package for creating and generating visual environments for computer gaming and simulation. ESP is based on the visual-system software that Microsoft developed and refined over the years for its popular Flight Simulator programs.

ESP is intended to take that to the next level by putting the ability to create Flight Simulator-like visuals in the hands of government agencies, commercial enterprises, and educational institutions that want to exploit "immersive games-based technology and interactive learning experiences to improve work-force readiness and increase operational excellence," according to Microsoft.

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Microsoft officials said they are not getting into the business of producing aviation training devices certified by aviation regulators. They are focused on selling developers of those tools the benefits of their Flight Simulator expertise; those developers would have to pursue certification of their devices.

Given that Flight Simulator expertise, Microsoft is focusing its ESP efforts initially on aviation applications, but company officials said the package is just as applicable to simulation of ground and maritime operations.

"With over half of today’s work force having grown up playing immersive computer-based games, businesses, governments, trade schools and universities are seeking affordable solutions that enable immersive learning experiences," said Shawn Firminger, studio manager for the Microsoft ACES Studio. "Microsoft ESP makes it easy and cost-effective for organizations to apply the advantages of games-based technology to serious learning and training endeavors."

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