Okay, back from reading through the links at sim-outhouse regarding my combat post. There certainly is a lot of cynicism out there regarding "M$"... Let me address some of the general comments. I was going to post this as a comment to my combat post, but I decided to do it as a new post instead so it won't get buried immediately.
I am a representative of Microsoft and I am the lead designer for FSX. I am also somewhat of an aviation and aircraft subject matter expert and have been flying since 1982, but I have a lot to learn still :). (BTW it's a P-12C, not a PC-12. Although Pilatus makes great aircraft I'm more partial to a biplane with guns.) I didn't ask for permission to make this post and considering I'm not making any promises or releasing any confidential information I'm comfortable doing so. I don't know if I would be the designer on a CFS title, but I do expect I would be involved to some degree. And yes I am listening, but I guarantee that we could not possibly do everything for everyone, so no matter what happens in the future someone (and maybe a lot of someones) will feel slighted, ignored, lied too, or all of that and more. That is simply inevitable. However if what I have in mind were done, I do think we would have a lot of very happy campers when allowed to mature.
CFS3 was a mistake on many levels. That said, there was a lot of really great stuff in there which if allowed to develop over time could have resulted in a winning franchise. The team that designed CFS3 wrongly decided that realism wasn't as important as game-like play, didn't have faith in FS as a platform and started from scratch with a new engine without the time to finish it as a stable engine (remember that the next time you ask for an all new engine for FS-Next). It's no wonder that beta testers wanting realism were ignored when the designers intentionally chose not to create that. Even if they wanted to listen or could have been swayed, it would have been too late by then anyway. If we had done CFS4, you would have found higher fidelity aircraft with accurate systems as I was the aircraft program manager at the time. Too bad about that.
I wasn't at Microsoft during CFS2 development as I joined at the very tail end of CFS3 when the team was in the final throws of trying to get it shipped. So I don't have a file folder full of all the feedback and ideas from the community. You would thinkt that in this digital age all of that data would be a search query away at my fingertips, but I doubt I could find it if I had a month to search (which I don't). Having been in the computer game industry for 18 years playing sims all the while, with subject matter expertise under my belt I have a good foundation for designing a combat sim. I hate patting myself on the back but you asked who I am and why you should care. I do genuinely care what you think and I want to hear from you. I can search through forum archives and all that, but frankly I have very little time for that. Hell I'm doing this on my holiday and I'm happy to do it because I have great passion for the subject.
I can't say we will do anything at all, because I just don't know. But I do know that interacting with you and discussing this can only help in the short and long term. This isn't even pre-production as that would imply we decided to go down the path of CFS again. This is pre-design discussion and yes I do have pre-conceived ideas of what we should do (if we were to do...)
This conversation is about dreaming and ideas and innovation. Without that and a vision nothing will ever happen. I have a vision, the passion, and the drive. Do you want to go with me, or watch from the ground?