MSFS Beta and Should You Participate

There are many reasons why the user community of Microsoft Flight Simulator or just about any major gaming title (simulation or otherwise) should participate in the various beta or early adopter updates released from time to time.  While in a perfect world, the developer behind any gaming title should have the resources to perform system testing to rule out major issues, the hard truth is most do not and there’s almost no way for any developer to test all the possible scenarios including hardware configurations and 3rd party add-ons/mods which all can and mostly likely will have an impact in the finished product.  In actuality, the developer (in this case Microsoft/Asobo) will perform their very best due diligence to ensure the update performs on a few different hardware configurations and generally leaves it up to 3rd party developers and mod creators to “shoe horn” their add-ons around what they’ve been provided.  So our participation in these beta programs (especially when feedback is sent back to the developer) is instrumental in the overall wellbeing of the gaming title.

Generally speaking, most 3rd party developers will participate in the beta programs for obvious reasons. But they do not receive the beta version in advance of the general public.  In other words, 3rd party developers like PMDG and Fenix only have access to the beta when it’s been made available to all of us.  The 3rd party devs will utilize the time between when the beta is released and it becomes GA (General Availability) to work out any issues with their add-on.  Of course in many situations this all becomes a fast moving target as there may be many iterations of the beta.  The time a 3rd party developer spends adjusting their add-on to function correctly with the beta could become a complete waste of time as changes are made and pushed out during the beta cycle.  In other words, in some cases the only way of truly knowing if a 3rd party add-on is going to work is to wait until the beta has become GA and been released to the entire community. 

Over the years, I’ve participated in many beta programs for all sorts of gaming titles.  Some have been positive, wonderful experiences of being able to gain access to new functionality or performance enhancements before everyone else.  But in a few cases these beta experiences have become an absolute nightmare.  In many cases the only way to escape the beta is to complete reinstall the current live version. As you can probably imagine this can be an extremely time consuming process.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft/Asobo began their open beta for the upcoming SU11 update and the word on the street is the experience hasn’t been an easy one.  Especially with some 3rd party aircraft and live weather.  Some 3rd party developers will do their best to provide solutions or workarounds for their products for the beta cycle, but most simply can’t and won’t guarantee functionality on a beta installation.  On the bright side, with regards to the SU11 beta, some users have reported experiencing a significant performance improvement from SU10. 

If you’re wondering if participating in the MSFS beta program is right for you, I would say it depends.  If you mainly fly default aircraft or if you still fly P3D/XPlane then participating in the SU11 beta  (or any future beta release) is probably OK for you.  However, if MSFS is your sole flight sim platform and you’re an every day flyer of add-on aircraft like the Fenix A320 or the PMDG 737, then I would highly suggest you hold off.  Bottom line, if you want full system compatibility between MSFS and 3rd party aircraft, then stay on the current live MSFS build.  Otherwise you may be in for a surprise when you attempt to fly your favorite 3rd party aircraft in the beta build. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Fenix A320 for MSFS

It’s been a while since I took the time to write a flight sim blog post. I’ve been busy with lots of DIY projects and just enjoying the spare time I have flying.  As I discussed soon after the release of MSFS, I decided to continue to fly Prepar3D v5 for all my airliner flights and have enjoyed Microsoft Flight Simulator mostly for General Aviation flying.  While I recognized from the very beginning that MSFS was going to be the new flight simulator standard, I saw no immediate need to begin flying airliners in the platform until just recently for several reasons.

First, while I did briefly play around with the FBW A320 in MSFS and will admit that what that team accomplished with the FBW A320 project is truly amazing, I didn’t see it replacing the FSLabs A319, A320, A321 I had in P3Dv5.  Second, from a short-haul perspective….I had everything I truly needed between the FSLabs and the PMDG 737.  I truly was waiting for something to grab my attention to the point where it would suck me right into MSFS.  Third, I must admit that I’m super spoiled with using Chaseplane to handle all my camera views in P3D.  The MSFS camera view system is seriously lacking when compared to Chaseplane and as I’ve been a Chaseplane user from the very beginning, old habits are truly difficult to break.

While I’ve been anxiously awaiting PMDG’s release into MSFS, I was slight disappointed in their release strategy.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reason behind releasing the Boeing 737-700 first, followed by the 737-600 then finally the 737-800 followed by the 737-900.  After all, had PMDG released the B738 first, they might have struggled with getting the sales on the –700/-600.  But, for me personally I’m just not interested in owning a –700 or –600 variant.  My primary interests are in the 737-800 and the 737-900.  As I fly mostly American Airlines with some Alaska Airlines flights mixed in.  But I digress as this blog post is supposed to be about the Fenix A320.

I began hearing about the Fenix A320 project a few months ago.  I’ll be honest, I really didn’t pay much attention to it until the last 60-90 days before release.  But the more I read about it the more I anxiously awaited its release and realized this could be the airliner to finally bring me more into MSFS. After all, I absolutely love the visuals (eye candy) in MSFS over P3D and truly want to do more airliner flying in the new sim. 

The Fenix A320 was a day one purchase for me and since the release, install and setup…I’ve flown nothing but the Fenix in MSFS.  I’ve successfully logged 24 flights in the Fenix and absolutely love it.  I’ve managed to setup the MSFS camera system to a point where I can use it and have been having fun.  I’ve flown a variety of short flights (1-2 hours) and several longer flights of 3-4 hours.  Both the Fenix and MSFS have performed flawlessly.  I’ve also started adding a few airports into MSFS from both some freeware selections on Flightsim.to and a few payware options where I’ve had discounts from previous P3D purchases.  While I’m not ready to uninstall P3D as I plan to fly P3D tomorrow in the Boeing 777, I’ll do the majority of my short-haul operations, and certainly all my Airbus flying in MSFS. 

Final thoughts on the Fenix A320.  I don’t like to “Never Say Never”, but if the devs behind the Fenix project remain true to their word and release the additional engine types and sharklets for the A320 and if they also produce (in time) an A319 and A321, I’ll be a Fenix customer from this point forward and won’t even consider any future FSLabs purchases in the A319/A320/A321 categories.  But of course time will tell. 

As always, thank you for reading. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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