Microsoft Flight Simulator X

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Microsoft Flight Simulator X
Flight Simulator X cover art
Developer(s) ACES Studio (Retail)
Dovetail Games (Steam Edition)
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
Series Microsoft Flight Simulator
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s)
  • NA October 10, 2006
(Mexico only)
  • EU October 13, 2006
  • NA October 17, 2006
(US and Canada)
  • AUS October 26, 2006
  • INT December 18, 2014
Genre(s) Flight simulation
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer (online)
Distribution Optical disc, download

Microsoft Flight Simulator X (abbreviated to FSX) is a 2006 flight simulation computer game originally developed and published by Microsoft for Windows. It is the sequel to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and the tenth and most current installment of the Microsoft Flight Simulator series, which was first released in 1982. It includes a graphics engine upgrade and was marketed by Microsoft as the most important technological milestone in the series to date.

It is the first version in the flight simulator series to be released in October 2006 worldwide as a DVD. It is also the first version in the series to feature a new type of electronic distribution prevention using license keys, removing the need for the user to insert the game disc into their computer in order to run the software.

In December 2012, over six years after its release, the FSX multiplayer matchmaking system over the GameSpy network was discontinued. On July 9, 2014, Dovetail Games, the developer of RailWorks Train Simulator, announced that it signed a licensing agreement with Microsoft and would be developing and producing new flight software for the series.[1] On December 18, 2014, they released the FSX: Steam Edition version of the simulator online via Steam. The update includes Windows 8.1 support and the reintroduction of multiplayer via Steam.[2]


Flight Simulator X marks the tenth version of the popular line of flight simulators. It was officially released to the US market on October 17, 2006. According to Microsoft's Web site for the game, a standard edition features everything from navaids to GPS and airways. It also includes 18 planes, 28 detailed cities, and over 24,000 airports with a deluxe version featuring 24 aircraft, and 38 cities.

Flight Simulator X was officially unveiled at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as a gaming showcase for Microsoft Windows Vista and is now also compatible with Windows 7. Microsoft released screenshots as well as a list of frequently asked questions as a press release on Microsoft Flight Simulator Insider,[3] and numerous flight simulator communities. This also included mission-based gameplay with mission specific aircraft as well as an upgraded rendering engine capable of increased detail. Following the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in May 2006, Microsoft published new screenshots, videos and an official trailer. The overall reaction by the community was quite positive,[citation needed] and the graphical quality of the simulator has greatly increased.



Main article: Microsoft Flight

On January 22, 2009, it was reported that development team behind the product was being heavily affected by Microsoft's ongoing job cuts, with indications that the entire Flight Simulator team would be laid off.[4][5] The news was later confirmed by Microsoft officials stating they were committed to the Flight Simulator franchise, with expectations to continue product releases in the series, but had nothing specific to announce at that time.[6] On August 17, 2010, Microsoft announced Microsoft Flight, a new simulation game that boasted a further-improved graphics engine and enhanced simulation features.[7] In April 2012, Flight was released on Steam. In August 2012, further development of Flight was cancelled by Microsoft.


Standard vs. Deluxe Edition[edit]

A screenshot showing the Cessna 172 with G1000 cockpit flying in a multiplayer session

Flight Simulator X was released in three editions: Standard, Deluxe, and later Gold. The Deluxe Edition incorporates additional features, including an on-disc software development kit (SDK), three airplanes with the Garmin G1000 Flightdeck, and the ability for the player to act as Air Traffic Control (ATC) for other online users with a radar screen.[8][9]

Aircraft available in the Deluxe Edition but not in the standard edition include the Agusta Westland AW101, Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, the Grumman G-21A Goose and the P-51D Mustang. The Maule Orion is flyable in the Deluxe edition but as AI aircraft in the standard Edition.

Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Gold Edition combines the Deluxe Edition and the Acceleration expansion pack into one.[10]

New features[edit]

A screenshot demonstrating the high resolution terrain capacity of FSX. In this example, payware scenery is used.

New features included in Flight Simulator X include:

  • Improved graphics
  • Airports with animated jetways and improved ground services
  • Ability for players to be an Air Traffic Controller (Deluxe only)
  • Support for DirectX 10
  • Proprietary SimConnect API to allow FSUIPC-like access to Flight Simulator functions and variables.
  • Advanced Animations, including wing flex

Missions and rewards[edit]

The inclusion of "Missions" adds a new facet to the simulation, adding task-oriented goals and encouraging users to fly worldwide, rather than just from their home field. Although a similar concept was available in previous versions, the new implementation of multipath & event-oriented situations substantially extends the potential for user interaction.

Pilots earn "Rewards" for completing various missions and reaching specific accomplishments throughout the game (in "Free Flight"). Some of the rewards exist as hidden easter eggs to be discovered by pilots.[11] Some missions have multiple and hidden rewards, receipt being dependent on performing additional actions.

Learning Center[edit]

The Learning Center has been carried over from FS2004, which introduces the user to the various features of FSX. Flying lessons are included (and improved from previous versions), voiced over by real-life pilot and instructor Rod Machado. The user can fly a checkride at the end of the learning process. Completion of these various checkrides certify the user with simulated pilot ratings (e.g. Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Airline Transport Pilot, etc.). This feature also contains aircraft information files that were, in earlier simulators, stored in Adobe Acrobat format.

Artificial intelligence[edit]

Artificial intelligence (AI) aircraft are non-playable aircraft built primarily for scenery and ambiance. They sometimes also play a key role in missions. Three aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas MD-83, the Piper Cherokee, and the DeHavilland Dash 8, have been supplied as AI only by Microsoft.

Demo versions[edit]

Flight Simulator X is notable for being the first product in Microsoft's Flight Simulator series to have a game demo, which contains a subset of features of the retail product (including a limitation to the duration of a flight) and requires Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista for installation.

The first limited demo of Flight Simulator X was released to the public on August 9, 2006, and available for download on the website. Although playable, the August demo represented a beta release of the product and had a number of bugs, some of which were recognized in the official installation's README file. On October 2, 2006, the demo was superseded by a newer release which, while having fewer bugs[citation needed], is almost identical to the first demo. The DHC-2 Beaver was removed in favor of a Learjet 45. Both the demos feature St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles and the surrounding area only, as opposed to the entire world. The main airport featured is Princess Juliana International Airport.

Available aircraft in the demo version: Beechcraft Baron 58 Bombardier Learjet 45 Bombardier CRJ700 Air Creation trike Ultralight Robinson R22

Patches and expansions[edit]

Service Pack 1[edit]

Microsoft released the first service pack (SP1) for Flight Simulator X on May 15, 2007 to address:

  • Activation and installation issues
  • Performance enhancements, including multithreading of texture synthesis and autogen to provide modest performance improvements on multi-core computers
  • Third-party add-on issues
  • Content issues[12]

Service Pack 2[edit]

Microsoft released another service pack for Flight Simulator X about the same time as its expansion pack (below). The update is primarily for Vista users that have DirectX 10- (DX10) compatible graphics adapters. This version takes advantage of DX10's improved shader model and more pixel pipelines and increased performance for Vista, approaching overall FSX performance on XP. It also adds the capability for players who do not have the expansion pack to participate in multiplayer activities with users of the expansion pack, along with support for multi-core processors.[13][14] FSX-SP2 also fixes some more bugs over the original release of Flight Simulator X. SP1 is not compatible with SP2 or Acceleration in Multiplayer. People with SP1 cannot enter a session with players who have SP2 or Acceleration in Multiplayer. According to the documentation, users are required to install SP1 before installing SP2.

Flight Simulator X: Acceleration[edit]

Flight Simulator X: Acceleration
Developer(s) ACES Studios
Publisher(s) Microsoft
Distributor(s) Microsoft
Series Microsoft Flight Simulator
Platform(s) PC (Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista)
Release date(s) NA October 23, 2007
AUS November 1, 2007
EU, November 2, 2007
Genre(s) Simulation
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer

Microsoft released their first expansion pack for Flight Simulator in years, called Flight Simulator X: Acceleration, to the US market on October 23, 2007 rated E – E10+ for mild violence and released to the Australian market on November 1, 2007 rated G.[15] Acceleration introduces new features, including multiplayer air racing, new missions, and three all-new aircraft, the F/A-18A Hornet, EH-101 helicopter and the P-51D Mustang. In many product reviews, users complained of multiple bugs in the initial release of the pack. One of the bugs, which occurs only in the Standard Edition, is that the Maule Air Orion aircraft used in the mission has missing gauges and other problems, as it is a Deluxe Version-only aircraft.

The new scenery enhancements cover Berlin, Istanbul, Cape Canaveral and the Edwards Air Force Base, providing high accuracy both in the underlying photo texture (60 cm/pixel) and in the detail given to the 3D objects.

Flight Simulator X: Acceleration can take advantage of Windows Vista, Windows 7, and DirectX 10 as well.[16]

The expansion pack includes code from both service packs; thus, installing them is unnecessary.[17][18]

Steam Edition[edit]

On December 18, 2014, Dovetail Games released Flight Simulator X on Steam. The new version included an overhaul of the multiplayer support to go through Steam rather than GameSpy, improved stability on Windows 7 and 8, and minor performance tweaks including a complete recompile using VS2013.[19]

The Steam version of the game did not however include the SDK that was present in the Deluxe and Gold editions.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "DoveTail Games Licensing Deal with Microsoft Takes Flight". Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "DoveTail Games Clears Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition for Takeoff on December 18". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Introducing Microsoft Flight!
  4. ^ Remo, Chris (2009-01-22). "Report: Microsoft Makes Big Cuts At Flight Sim Studio". Gamasutra. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  5. ^ Plunkett, Luke (2009-01-22). "Flight Simulator Devs Grounded By Microsoft Job Cuts". Kotaku. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Ocampo, Jason (2009-01-23). "Microsoft Confirms Aces Closure". IGN. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "Introducing "Microsoft Flight"". Microsoft. 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Most Popular Games of 2011". ListBuff. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "Flight Simulator X – Product Information". Microsoft Game Studios. 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2010. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Microsoft Flight Simulator X Gold Edition". Microsoft Store. Retrieved 26 December 2010. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Easter Eggs in FSX?". P-12C Pilot. October 18, 2006. 
  12. ^ Flight Simulator X Service Pack 1[dead link]
  13. ^ Lee Purcell (2009). "Microsoft Flight Simulator X Soars to New Heights with Multi-Threading". Intel. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  14. ^ PTaylor's WebLog : FSX-SP2(DX10) delay factors
  15. ^ "Flight Simulator X: Acceleration Now Available!". FSInsider. Microsoft. October 23, 2007. 
  16. ^ "Flight Simulator X Acceleration Expansion Pack". Microsoft. 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-21. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Flight Simulator X Service Pack 1". Microsoft. 2009. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  18. ^ "Flight Simulator X Service Pack 2". Microsoft. 2009. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  19. ^ Dovetail Games (18 December 2014). "Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition Change Log". Steam Community. 

External links[edit]