Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Diamond DA 40Source: Microsoft

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 soon kicks off its closed beta, currently scheduled to release on July 30.
  • The closed beta marks the next opportunity to get hands-on with the title ahead of launch, with new invites planned for the weeks ahead.

The hotly-anticipated next entry in the Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise continues to target availability later this year, with alpha testing underway among a tight pool of participants. Following an almost a decade hiatus, the next step for the simulator drew eyes for its cloud-powered unveiling, infusing mapping data for unparalleled accuracy on a global scale. And while Microsoft still hasn't locked down its release date, it soon kicks off a public-facing closed beta.

Microsoft has drafted plans to release its Flight Simulator closed beta on July 30, sticking to its previously-outlined roadmap for external testing. The move represents the next stage in preparing the title for a full-fledged release, shifting the focus to polish, while further expanding to a broader group of applicants.

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Microsoft Flight SimulatorSource: Microsoft

The announcement comes via its latest developer blog, also outlining the rollout of its Alpha 5 update for existing Microsoft Flight Simulator testers. While primarily focused on cleaning up the existing groundwork, it also comes with a new wave of alpha invitations for previous registrants. For those who previously registered for alpha access before sign-ups closed, check those inboxes.

Details on closed beta applications remain unclear, and whether the same substantial non-disclosure agreement (NDA) will remain. Microsoft promises all current alpha testers will automatically receive access, with further beta invites on the way. We also expect the new Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox One, but pre-release tests remain focused on Windows 10 PCs.

Microsoft Flight Simulator's 2020 return could be a disruptive contender in the space, featuring over two petabytes of Bing Maps to provide a 1:1 representation of planet earth. Further fused with terrain data, foliage mapping, and systems like real-time weather, the project promises accuracy on a near-incomprehensible scale. We're expecting more on Microsoft Flight Simulator and its closed beta over the days ahead, potentially tying into the upcoming Xbox Games Showcase on July 23.

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