Probably the most anticipated seminar of the day was the one by Microsoft. On stage for Microsoft were Jorg Neumann and Sebastian Wloch, telling us a little bit more about what the company has been up to.
Microsoft is fully aware of the impact they have had on the flight simulator industry, and Jorg started off with thanking all the people that make it happen; from the developers and creators of add-ons to those covering it all. Microsoft’s flight simulator is now over 40 years old, and has reached over 12 million people in just the last three years.
Microsoft has delivered several updates over the last few years, ranging from World Updates to significant sim updates and new content, such as the 40th Anniversary Edition. In total, Microsoft has delivered over 30 updates to the sim. These updates could not have been created without the support of the amazing teams at Microsoft and Asobo alike, as well as the several third party partners that Microsoft has worked together with.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024
Microsoft announced the latest iteration of their simulator, Flight Simulator 2024, at last week’s Xbox event. The decision to show the trailer at the Xbox event was deliberate due to the audience and reach, but Jorg is here to enlighten us more about Microsoft’s latest announcement.
The presentation, as well as Flight Simulator 2024, revolve around several focus areas that were explained by the team. The first of those is simulation activities. One of the main things that Microsoft has heard as feedback is that people want to do more things in the simulator. Microsoft is adding a lot of content to make the sim more interactive. Not to say that it’s going to become a game, that is something Jorg was very explicit about. The activities will revolve around real life aviation activities and styles of flying. For those wondering why there were no airliners in the trailer, Jorg had a simple answer: there will be airliners, and there will be a lot of them. The exact content of the simulator will still be shared later.
Focus 2 revolved around the core simulator and its technology. Anyone wanting to use MSFS right now still needs to download a significant amount of data to their local storage. Microsoft is looking to solve this issue by making the size of the sim overall smaller and moving more data to the cloud so that it can be streamed on demand. On top of that, you will only download what you need to your local storage, reducing the footprint of MSFS even more. This also allows to keep the minimal specs requirement for systems low and make the sim accessible to more people. All this has been done while keeping backwards compatibility in mind. And don’t worry, the community folder isn’t going anywhere either.
Talking more about the simulator technologies and what makes things fly, Flight Simulator 2024 is bringing a huge set of new features and improvements with it. Using new physics methods and simulations, such as rigid and soft body simulation as well as tissue and rope simulation, Microsoft is able to take MSFS24 to a whole new level and add new types of simulations. These new technologies (and new ways of flying) were demoed with a balloon, which is shown to inflate, deflate and fly around based on the new physics systems. In terms of actual aircraft systems, these got upgrades and enhancements across the board. Updated electrical, pneumatic, fuel and hydraulic systems, as well as dynamic wear and tear and failures. The sim will also include more and wider avionics systems, as well as cockpit tablets by default.
Focus area 3 is the so-called “Digital Twin”. By this, Microsoft means the digital representation of the whole world, and specifically, how to make this look better and more accurate. Using new low altitude training for machine learning enables Microsoft and Asobo to get a more accurate representation of the countryside, or areas of the world that would otherwise lack in coverage. One area that was specifically mentioned was Mount Kilimanjaro, where the team is not able to get photogrammetry data. Using a ‘3D out of 2D’ technology, the team is able to get high resolution (50cm) ground out of these areas. These areas are enhanced by new 3D trees that the sim will come with, as well as improved cliffs and ground materials.
Last but not least in regard to Flight Simulator 2024 were a few other features that the community has been yearning for: seasons, aurora borealis, tornado’s and storms, as well as a more living world featuring (migrating) animals, worldwide live ship traffic and more accurate live air traffic.
Moving on from Flight Simulator 2024, Jorg had a new more surprises and announcements in store. First of all, Microsoft announced Famous Flyer 6, the Ford 4-AT Tri-motor. This aircraft is available right now for free for a week. He also announced Cities Update 3: Texas, covering several cities in the state. Last but not least, the team made the exciting announcement of a new Local Legend, the Boeing 307 Stratoliner.