Microsoft ESP Debuts as a Platform for Visual Simulation

Editor’s Note, Feb. 7, 2008
– Details on pricing for Microsoft ESP 1.0 were revised to correct inaccuracies in estimated costs initially reported in this release.

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 14, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. today announced plans for a new visual-simulation platform, Microsoft ESP, available in January 2008. Microsoft ESP enables the innovative use of visual simulation for immersive learning and decision-making, supports PC-based commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software, and enables simulations to be built faster and more cost-effectively. Simulations built on the Microsoft ESP platform will help government, commercial and academic organizations apply immersive games-based technology and interactive learning experiences to improve work-force readiness and increase operational excellence.

Capitalizing on years of investment in the Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise, Microsoft ESP allows partners and developers to focus on creating compelling and differentiated Windows-based solutions that go beyond entertainment and are consistent with the industry’s move toward serious games and games-based learning as training tools. The initial version of the platform focuses on Microsoft’s established strength and expertise in aviation capabilities and is targeted to military and commercial aviation audiences. Future versions of Microsoft ESP will expand beyond aviation into ground and maritime operations, indoor and avatar-centric simulations for commercial, government and academic learning opportunities.

“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 at Microsoft. “Improving training and learning outcomes is an important goal of most organizations. Microsoft ESP makes it easy and cost-effective for organizations to apply the advantages of games-based technology to serious learning and training endeavors.”

As a platform technology, Microsoft ESP provides a PC-based simulation engine, a comprehensive set of tools, applications programming interfaces, documentation to support code development, content integration and scenario-building capabilities, along with an extensive base of world content that can be tailored for custom solutions. Partners and developers can add structured experiences or missions, content such as terrain and scenery, scenarios, and hardware devices to augment existing solutions, or they can build and deploy new solutions that address the mission-critical requirements of their customers.

To support high-fidelity, dynamic, 3-D immersive experiences, Microsoft ESP includes geographical, cultural, environmental and rich scenery data along with tools for placing objects, scenery and terrain customization, object activation, special effects, and environmental controls including adjustable weather. Realistic land, sea and air environments enable fully immersive experiences that can be used for the following:

  • Flight training and rehearsal. Includes cockpit familiarization, checklists and cockpit flows, and capability-based training such as aerial refueling and basic sortie

  • Preparedness and decision-making. Includes experiences such as allowing a pilot to pre-fly a new route or become more familiar with new terrain, approach patterns and weather patterns

  • Research and development modeling. Allows a user to visualize ideas, create mockups of cockpits or instrument panels, design specs in 3-D, and evaluate runway configurations or lighting schemes

Simulations built on the Microsoft ESP platform can take advantage of an extensive set of capabilities to create dynamic, immersive environments, including the following:

  • Configurable weather model. Includes user-adjustable weather conditions, limitless variations using four cloud types, wind-speed and directional controls, visibility effects and precipitation modeling, or use of near-real-time weather from an external data source feed

  • Extensive scene generation and scenery support. Has support for up to five seasons including hard winter, continuous time of day, night textures and scenery support including automatic fill-in

  • After-Action Review. Allows for effective performance playback and analysis.

  • Support of standardized data sources. Supports Digital Elevation Model data, vector data, WGS-84 datum, METAR weather data, dynamic objects, Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound and others

  • Multiplayer functionality and Internet support including Voice over IP. Allows up to 30 people to interact around the world using a peer-to-peer broadband connection

Microsoft ESP 1.0 will be available for purchase on Jan. 1, 2008, via Microsoft’s Volume Licensing price list. For pricing details, please visit or contact your Volume Licensing reseller.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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