Reader Question–MSFS Auto-Update
I have another reader question to explore today with everyone. It’s a rather interesting one and honestly it’s one of my very own pet peeves about Microsoft Flight Simulator. Here’s a snippit of the email I received a few days ago.
Hello, I recently stumbled onto your blog site and found your content to be extremely helpful as I slowly wade into the world of flight simulation. I read your recent “Reader Question – Where are the Widebodies” posting and it inspired me to email you with my very own question to see if you can shed any light. Like many I’m sure, I don’t have a lot of time to devote to flight sim. I have a young family and once I’m home from work, have dinner and help get the kids all in bed, I generally enjoy taking a short flight a few times a week. I have even less time on the weekends as the kids all seem to have different activities and sometimes at opposite ends of town. Anyway, I was hoping to spend a quiet Friday evening flying my favorite PMDG 737, but instead the entire time was spent downloading updates. By the time MSFS finished updating, it was time for bed as I had an early start the next day. So my main question is why are these updates forced on us and is there any way to disable them? My sim has been working just fine and I would have rather waited until a more convenient time to apply the updates, if that is even possible. Thank you for your time. George
Oh boy! I for one certainly understand George’s frustration. While I’m retired and don’t have kids that need to be shuttled around from one extra curricular activity to another….when I decide to sit down and fly….I want to fly! Over the past four decades that I’ve enjoyed the hobby of flight simulation starting on the Commodore 64 all the way through each generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator and throughout each of the versions of Prepar3D….MSFS is the very first which has had this auto-update mechanism built in that upon launch and regardless whether you want to update or not, you are forced to download/install the updates.
During the Prepar3D (P3D) years, I would make it a matter of practice to always wait several days, perhaps even several weeks before downloading and installing an update. Generally speaking, it could take several days, perhaps even a week or two before 3rd party developers could provide patches to their products to make them compatible with the most recent P3D update. In addition, by deferring an update also allowed time to research the various forums to determine if the update caused any game breaking issues which could require a hot-fix to resolve.
Having said all that, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a completely different sim from all those in the past. Part of what makes MSFS the gold standard (in my opinion) is the fact it’s cloud based. All the beauty and majesty we experience while flying around the virtual world is streamed down to our PC’s on an “On-Demand” basis. The cloud based design allows for a much smaller footprint on our SSD’s or HDD’s and only needs to download the data specific to the location we’re flying. As a result it’s necessary for all client machines connecting to the MSFS systems to all be running the same version of the base software. Thus why we have the mandatory updates.
I have read some comments on various forums and other social media platforms that suggest one can avoid the mandatory update process by disconnecting your network connection, start up MSFS and then reconnect once in the main menu. While I’ve not tested this process, I believe avoiding updates is not the best practice in the long run and may lead to issues especially if you connect to the MSFS multi-player environment.
Of course this cloud-based setup can lead to issues which we experienced a few months ago where many users experienced unexplained performance and CTD (crash to desktop) issues over several long days. I wrote about my own experiences in a blog posting titled “And Just Like That” where I discussed the issues I had experienced and my belief at what caused these issues.
If I’m honest, I do have some long-range concerns regarding what may or may not happen as MSFS ages beyond the next several years. There is a rather surprising number of simmers who still fly FS9 and FSX on a daily basis even though these platforms are almost two decades old. While both Microsoft and Asobo appear to be fully committed to the success of MSFS 2020. But depending on their long-range plans, it might not be possible to use MSFS in the year 2040 if something else has taken its place or God forbid the program is completed shelved. Let’s face it, it costs a lot of money to operate the data centers and cloud solutions which allow us to fly around the virtual skies. The powers that be at Microsoft will need to see a solid return on this investment over the years to come. But hey, this is probably a discussion to have at a later day in time.
Bottom line (and in closing), as I’ve stated many times before, I believe Microsoft Flight Simulator is the gold standard of all flight simulator platforms available today and I also believe, will be so for some time to come. Despite the pain points we occasionally have to suffer through, when it works (and for me it works flawlessly 99.999% of the time) it brings me more enjoyment than I’ve ever experienced in my long history with flight sim.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts. Until next time….