It is still a way off – probably at least a year – but this month has seen a fair bit of movement on the Flight Simulator website, which has been pretty dormant since the announcement of the new version of the much loved simulator franchise during E3 2019 in early June. Reason enough to set up an Official Thread for the game.
MS Flight Simulator has a 37-year long history stretching all the way back to 1982 when, after securing the license to port subLOGIC’s FS1 Flight Simulator for Apple II and TRS-80 to IBM compatible machines, Microsoft released Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 in November of that year.
FS 1.0 featured an improved graphics engine, variable weather and time of day, and a new coordinate system. Advertisements claimed “If flying your IBM PC got any more realistic, you’d need a license”, and promised “a full-color, out-the-window flight display”. Early versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator were used as a test for PC compatibility. If a computer could run MSFS 1.0 and Lotus 1-2-3, it was a 100% IBM PC-compatible. If it couldn’t, it wasn’t.
Since FS 1.0 there have been 11 further franchise releases. 12 if you consider 2014s MS Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition as a separate version. The 5-year agreement that MS had with Dovetail Games that allowed them to manage and distribute the Steam Edition of MSFS X ended earlier this year which freed up Microsoft to bring the franchise back in-house and prompted the 2020 release announcement.
The 2020 game will feature AI driven by Microsoft’s Azure and 4K ground satellite textures and aircraft. 2 petabytes of geodata will be used to generate the world and the skies above it. This will also be the first of the series to not be PC exclusive, as this installment is also launching on the Xbox One as a Play Anywhere title. Additionally, as the game is being developed by MS directly, MS FS will be available to both Console and PC Game Pass subscribers on launch.
This month has seen two major updates on the official Flight Simulator website: the release of a Development Roadmap; and the launch of the FS Insider Program.
The Insider Program:
What is the Microsoft Flight Simulator Insider Program?
The Insider program is the way Microsoft Flight Simulator fans and community members can collaborate with our development teams to improve the simulation, experience, and services. As an Insider, you will have the opportunity to provide feedback and insights that help shape and inform current franchise initiatives and the future of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
What are the benefits of joining the Insider Program?
Insiders will answer short surveys, have access to private forums and receive exclusive weekly newsletters. Moreover, Insiders will have exclusive opportunities to participate in Technical Alpha and Beta tests of in-progress Microsoft Flight Simulator releases and provide feedback to the development teams.
Sign-ups for the Insider Program are open now at:
And more details about the Program are here:
From what I can gather, the only expectation is that you are also signed up as a member of the Xbox Insider Program as it seems that they will be using the Xbox Insider Hub to distribute and manage feedback of the Technical Alpha and Beta tests.