US, January 23, 2009 - Microsoft has confirmed the closure of Aces Game Studio, the internal development studio responsible for Microsoft Flight Simulator. Flight Simulator is one of the company's oldest product lines, stretching back more than 20 years. The closure came amidst the company's first major layoffs in its history, announced on Thursday. Approximately 5,000 Microsoft employees will be laid off; around 1,400 were cut immediately, with the remainder to but cut over the next 18 months.In a statement, Kelda Rericha of Edelman, Microsoft's public relations firm, said that the decision was made within Microsoft's Internal Entertainment Business "to align our people against our highest priorities." The closure of Aces marks the shuttering of another major developer within Microsoft Game Studios. Since September of 2007, the company has shut down FASA Studio (Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, and Shadowrun), announced the closure of Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires), and Carbonated Games (Hexic HD, Uno). In addition, Bungie, the studio responsible for Halo, left Microsoft Games Studios and became an independent studio, though Microsoft does maintain an ownership stake in it. Does this mean the end of the Flight Simulator franchise? According to Rericha, "We are committed to the Flight Simulator franchise which has proven to be a successful PC based game for the last 27 years. You should expect us to continue to invest in enabling great LIVE experiences on Windows, including flying games, but we have nothing specific to announce at this time."