Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024

I mentioned a little while ago when I wrote about the recent delay to system update 15 for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 that I would take the time to write about the new version of MSFS2024 which is due to release sometime this year. While we don’t have a release date at this time, if history repeats itself (as it often does) we could expect a end of summer timeframe release.  But considering (at least in my opinion) MSFS2020 is absolutely fantastic and should get even better once SU15 drops the wait for me is a non-issue.

A New Sim Really?

Like many, when I first learned that Microsoft/Asobo were working on a brand new sim I was surprised.  Of course if you’ve been around the flight sim world as long as I have, you’ve seen many iterations of the sim.  After all, Microsoft released six different versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator between the years of 1996 and 2006.  Each of these new versions contained new features and functionality from their predecessors and in many ways they each took advantage of the quickly developing PC technology of the day.  I firmly believe this is also why we’re seeing a brand new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator some four years after the successful release of MSFS2020.  Let’s face it, while MSFS2020 released to us on PC in August of 2020, the planning and actual development began many years before.

Most Popular Sim?

As I’ve said before in other blog posts, when MSFS 2020 released, the flight sim community expanded immensely almost overnight.  This is especially true when MSFS2020 became available on the XBox platform almost a year later.  While the flight sim community might still be relatively small and niche compared to other game genres, we have proven to Microsoft and Asobo that we’re here, we’re active and we want the very best flight simulation that can be developed for the home flight simulation enthusiast.

We may never really know if at the time MSFS2020 was released, whether Microsoft had the plans at that time for MSFS2024.  While they may have speculated it would be a popular release, I think the direction the flight sim community wanted Microsoft to take the franchise has proven to be worth their efforts in continuing the franchise for many decades.

All The Benefits

There are many, many benefits to us as consumers of flight simulation add-ons (including both software and hardware) for Microsoft to continue updating the sim for hopefully decades to come.  While the software add-on market has always been relatively strong, the hardware market is also making a huge comeback.  The hardware market had sort of become a bit stale in the last few years before the release of MSFS2020.  Today we have many different hardware developers creating everything from yokes, joysticks, pedals, throttles and all the various components to truly become free of needing to use the mouse and keyboard.  I firmly believe this increase of the number of software and hardware developers is testament to the success of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

MSFS2024

I’m sure everyone has already viewed the teaser videos Microsoft released around the time of the announcement last year.  Much of the new mission content are things I’m really not interested in.  True, while I will probably spend time doing some of them…it’s just not something I’m overly excited about.  For me, what I enjoy about any flight sim is the open world opportunity to fly what I want to fly, wherever I choose to fly it.  But what might we expect to be included in MSFS2024 that we don’t have available today?

New Aircraft

I would expect much of what we consider the default aircraft included in MSFS2020 today will be made available in MSFS2024.  But there are a few new aircraft which should make their way into MSFS2020 such as the Beluga Airbus and Airbus A300M.  But again, these are probably aircraft that I will rarely fly in the sim.  But wait…there’s more to MSFS2024.

Weather Data Capabilities

Asobo have commented in a few of the developer streams of late that MSFS2024 weather data is going to get some changes from what we know about weather in MSFS2020.  Could we finally be able to import historical weather into the sim?  Again, time will tell and this is one of the reasons I’m holding out on purchasing ActiveSky FS which I discussed a few weeks ago.

Freeware Marketplace

Now this I’m potentially excited about.  The amount of good, quality freeware add-ons that we have witnessed come onto the scene with MSFS2020 is exceptional.  While I own a great deal of payware airport sceneries for MSFS2020, I’m using several freeware airport sceneries in some locations as either there is no payware available or the freeware looks and performs better than the payware.  But Microsoft have noticed the demand of freeware content and may one day offer it to be available in the Microsoft Marketplace.  Like I said, I’m really excited about this as while I keep track of all the scenery I have installed in my sim (which you can see here), having this ability to install from Marketplace and hopefully be notified of any updates is a game changer for me.  This of course will also be HUGE for those on the XBox platform.  But we’ll see if this comes to fruition.

Release Date

As I’ve previously stated in this article, at this time we do not know when MSFS2024 will be released.  While history can always be a good indicator of things like this, we really just don’t know.  We may learn more after the FSExpo taking place in June (21-23 June), but I’m going to take a huge guess and say that MSFS2024 will release sometime between August and the end of the year.

Future of MSFS2020

I’ve spoken to many fellow flight simmers and currently it’s about a 70/30 split on whether they’ll move to MSFS2024 once released.  This being approx. 70% saying yes to MFSF2024 and approx. 30% have said they’ll stay on MSFS2020 for now.  But what is the future of MSFS2020?  Well we do know that sometime in 2025, Microsoft/Asobo will release SU16.  With SU16 Microsoft/Asobo might bring some of the features that will be available in MSFS2024 into MSFS2020.  How much or how little just isn’t known at this time.

800lb Gorilla

I can’t close out this article without addressing the 800lb Gorilla in the room and that of course has to do with all the purchased add-ons from MSFS2020.  What will be available?  When will they be available and what will it all cost?

Unfortunately we really don’t have an absolute set of answers to those above mentioned questions.  What we do know is the vast majority of 3rd party developers have publicly stated while they are just as much in the dark as the rest of us concerning when MSFS2024 will release and the amount of changes required to make their add-ons available into the new sim, they all have plans to make them available for MSFS2024 just as quickly as possible.  In addition, most have stated that any already purchased MSFS2020 add-on will not require a full repurchase once available for MSFS2024.  However, depending on the level of effort to bring them into MSFS2024 is simply unknown at this time and therefore I suppose there could be a minimal charge necessary to offset any of this development work.

Once again, if history repeats itself….most 3rd party developers will not have access to MSFS2024 until we all have access to it.  So the clock starts on any work required on these 3rd party add-ons the very same day we all can make our purchase of MSFS2024, download and install it.  While some in our community will be absolute idiots and begin posting in 3rd party developers forums, Discords etc. about when XYZ will be available…I urge everyone to be patient and just wait.  It will happen and it will happen just as soon as possible.

In Summary

For me, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 will be a day one purchase for me.  I will take the same, exact approach I did with MSFS2020.  I will install it and I will experience it most likely in a default Cessna 172.  I will continue to use MSFS2020 as my primary sim, utilizing the PMDG 737, (hopefully the 777-300ER), the Fenix A320 (and hopefully their A319/A321 as well) and patiently wait.  At such time these aircraft are available in the new sim, I will add them and progressively utilize MSFS2024 more and more,  Then at some point down the road MSFS2020 will be uninstalled and simply forgotten about just like P3Dv5 was.

Oh, One More Thing

Join me in crossing your fingers, toes etc. and perhaps even going so far as asking St. Joseph of Cupertino (Patron Saint of all things aviation) to intercede on our behalf, that from day one, MSFS2024 will open up their camera API functionality so that third party developer //42 can finally bring Chaseplane to MSFS.  While over the past couple of years I’ve managed to get somewhat used to the MSFS default camera system, for those of us that used Chaseplane back in P3D this would be a true game changer if it could be developed for the new sim.

If you’ve made it this far, Thank you!  My apologies for the lengthy blog post, but there was a lot that needed to be shared.  I will continue to share what information I can find on MSFS2024 as soon as more is known.  Of course, I’ll blog about all my experiences in the new sim once it’s on my PC.  What an amazing time this is for those of us involved in the hobby of flight simulation!

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Saying Goodbye to P3D…For now

My current gaming machine is just a little over 4 years old.  Amazingly, it still runs really well.  When I built it back in 2018, I used the latest and greatest components I could.  Amazingly (once again), the machine performs well with the current simulation based games I enjoy playing.  This even includes the new Microsoft Flight Simulator.   Anyway, I designed the machine to use a 1 TB NVMe SSD as the main drive along with a few SSD’s.  At the time of the initial build, I was running P3Dv4 and it was installed on the NVMe drive. 

When P3Dv5 released, I knew it would be several weeks before all the add-ons would catch up, so I installed it on the largest SSD (500 GB).  I ran both versions of P3D for several month with this intention of eventually doing a complete OS reset, then locate P3Dv5 to the NVMe drive.  Before that happened, MSFS released and I kicked the can down the road and delayed the OS reset and just uninstalled P3Dv4 to free up enough space on the NVMe drive for MSFS. 

For the first 18 months of the life of MSFS, I really only used it for GA flying.  But all that changed once the Fenix A320 and the PMDG 737-700 released a few months ago.  Since that timeframe, I’ve only used P3D a few times.  Meanwhile I was adding more 3rd party airport sceneries to MSFS and as a result watching the available space on the NVMe drive get lower and lower. 

On Thursday, I purchased and attempted to install the new GSX Pro from FSDreamteam.  Like many others, I ran into issues immediately after installing.  After reading forum threads and Discord messages, I finally gave up and decided to go to bed and sleep on it.  Oddly enough, I woke up fairly early this morning and decided it was time to refresh the OS and essentially make the move to MSFS 100% and for now, give P3D the BIG Heave Ho. 

Now, while GSX Pro has some challenges and some of the issues experienced on the first day appear to be related to their download servers….but I believe my own issues were a combination of having remnants of P3Dv4, along with P3Dv5 and MSFS.  While it should certainly be possible for everything to live in harmony…something was wrong and I felt just doing a Windows 10 reset was my absolute best option.  Like I said, the available space on my main SSD was becoming a serious issue.

It’s been a long day and I’m not 100% done.  But I’ve managed to get Windows 10 reset, fully patched with all updated hardware drivers installed.  The most time consuming part of the entire process has been reinstalling MSFS.  That took the better part of two hours just to download then apply the updates.  Next getting the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737-700 installed and finally all the add-on airports reinstalled.  I even took time to get the AIG liveries along with VATSIM model matching installed.  (That’s also a very time consuming process, but I had these things backed up so I didn’t have to start from scratch).  One of the last items I installed was GSX Pro and it installed without issue and works as perfectly has it can at this point in time.  I’ll explain more about this in a future blog post. 

As for the future of P3Dv5.  For now it will remain uninstalled.  To be honest, and I’ve said this before in other blog postings, I really only have time for short-haul flights.  While I do love the PMDG 777, 747 and the QualityWings 787, I really don’t have the time to enjoy them to their full potential.  Not to mention, (and I’ve also said this before) that the eye-candy factor is seriously lacking in P3Dv5 compared to MSFS.

Possible Final Thoughts about P3D

My interest in P3D really didn’t start until Lockheed Martin released version 3 in 2015.  I had dabbled briefly with version 2, but didn’t officially leave FSX behind until v3.  At that time most of the 3rd party developers were getting more seriously involved with Prepar3D and it just seemed like the right time to move over.  Of course, when P3Dv4 arrived in 2017 that officially ushered in the 64 bit compatibility we had all been dreaming of.  Finally one could get the true potential from the sim without fear of the dreaded OOM errors which were quickly followed by at CTD. 

When Prepar3D version 5 was released on April 14, 2020 we were in the early stages of the COVID Pandemic and I was working from home.  At this time we knew about the new Microsoft Flight Simulator and I seriously contemplated just staying on v4 knowing/believing MSFS would be the future.  But after a few weeks I finally pulled the trigger and purchased P3Dv5.  After all, I felt it could be at least a year (if not longer) before MSFS would be at a point where study level aircraft would be available and I wanted to experience the latest and greatest for whatever period of time it might be before making the move to MSFS. 

Getting into P3Dv5 from a financial perspective was really only the cost of the sim.  Again, to the best of my memory….99% of the add-ons I had been using in P3Dv4 were made available with P3Dv5 installers at no cost and I certainly got my monies worth out of v5.  All-in-all, as a hard-core flight simulation enthusiast I’m thankful to Lockheed Martin for making P3D available after Microsoft abandoned us.  While I tried XPlane sometime before P3Dv4, but having been such a long-time Microsoft Simmer I just couldn’t get into it.  In any event, at the time Prepar3D v5 was “As Real As It Gets”. 

I know many simmers discount MSFS.  Especially around the flight modeling.  But for me, this is a minor issue and is almost a non-issue with the Fenix and PMDG aircraft we have today.  I believe these issues will all evolve in time and MSFS WILL BE the very best home flight simulation platform. 

Final Thoughts

Just a little over 24 hours later and the rebuild is done.  I completed my first test flight in the Fenix A320 from TPA to CLT.  No major issues. I actually learned something today which I was not aware of with MSFS.  But all the settings including graphic settings, sim settings and controller settings/bindings are all saved in the cloud.  So when you reinstall MSFS, all these settings that often require lots of testing and tweaking to get things the way they were are just the same as before.  This saved lots of times and no doubt allowed me to get my first flight in much quicker. 

Thankfully I landed just when I did as 5 minutes after I shut down my engines and filed my PIREP, my electricity went out.  Thankfully my sim machine is on a UPS and I was able to safely shut down.  But my plans for flight #2 will have to wait a bit.  Until then….thanks for reading. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!  (Once power is restored)

Jerry

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