Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 launch time and release date

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Diamond DA 40
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Diamond DA 40 (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Flight Simulator makes its return for a new generation, embracing the power of the cloud on a truly global scale. The title sets out to create a digital double of the planet Earth through satellite data and artificial intelligence (AI), faithfully replicating every country down the kilometer. Packaged up with significant advancements in its aerodynamic and simulation models, the latest Flight Simulator could be your closest experience to flying in the bleak backdrop of 2020.

With the next Microsoft Flight Simulator gearing up for its global release, we have now received additional details around how the title will roll out across the globe. That includes a staggered release depending on where you bought the title, with exact release times also available on a per-region basis. We've wrapped up everything you need to know, ahead of launch day.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 release time

Microsoft Flight Simulator Pitts Hangar

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft Flight Simulator launches on August 18, 2020, exclusively for Windows PCs. The title debuts on both Steam and Windows 10's own integrated Microsoft Store, which is available in three flavors ranging from $60 to $120 for additional planes and airport upgrades. By now, you've hopefully glanced over the PC requirements too, making sure your machine is up to scratch.

Microsoft has now detailed when the new Flight Simulator will be playable, which varies based on where you buy it. The Microsoft Store version of Microsoft Flight Simulator endures a rolling release, staggered across 24 time zones depending on your location. The title is scheduled to release at midnight in your region, meaning you will be able to play the moment the clock ticks past midnight.

Microsoft's handling of its Steam release vastly differs, seeing one global release regardless of location. The title eyes up a 4 a.m. UTC (12 a.m. ET / 9 p.m. PT / 5 a.m. UK) release, at which point the title will unlock for all. For some, that's an early release, while also behind schedule for many eastern regions.

What time can I play Microsoft Flight Simulator?

Microsoft Flight Simulator Airbus A320 Jfk

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

With Microsoft Flight Simulator steadily rolling out over the hours ahead, we've compiled a handy reference that helps pin which what time it releases in your region, for both Steam and Windows 10 Microsoft Store versions.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Microsoft Store release time

With the Microsoft Store embracing a rolling release, most regions eye up midnight availability.

  • U.S. Eastern: 12 a.m. EDT / 4:00 a.m. UTC
  • U.S Central: 12 a.m. CDT / 5:00 a.m. UTC
  • U.S Pacific: 12 a.m. CDT / 7:00 a.m. UTC
  • United Kingdom: 12 a.m. BST / 11:00 p.m. UTC
  • Central Europe: 12:00 a.m. CET / 10:00 p.m. UTC
  • Australia: 12:00 a.m. AEST / 11:30 p.m. ACST / 10:00 p.m. AWST / 14:00 p.m. UTC
  • India: 12:30 a.m. IST / 6:30 p.m. UTC

Microsoft Flight Simulator Steam release time

The Steam release sees universal 4:00 a.m. UTC availability, which while equal for all, results in some hugely varied launch times based on your location.

  • U.S. Eastern: 12 a.m. EDT / 4:00 a.m. UTC
  • U.S Central: 11 p.m. CDT / 4:00 a.m. UTC
  • U.S Pacific: 9 p.m. CDT / 4:00 a.m. UTC
  • United Kingdom: 5 a.m. BST / 4:00 a.m. UTC
  • Central Europe: 6 a.m. CET / 4:00 a.m. UTC
  • Australia: 14:00 p.m. AEST / 13:30 p.m. ACST / 12:00 p.m. AWST / 4:00 a.m. UTC
  • India: 9:30 a.m. IST / 4:30 p.m. UTC

When Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 releases in your region, expect a hefty in-game update to get your PC ready to fly.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox One release date

While Microsoft Flight Simulator celebrates its PC debut on August 18, the Xbox One version remains a while out. The studio states the title will launch "at a later date" for Xbox One, with an Xbox Series X version also assumed. While the console spin-off remains in development, the team has discussed how catering to consoles also benefited optimizations on the PC release. While it's far from official, current schedules make a 2021 debut increasingly likely.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.