As most of you know, I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Microsoft and most of their product line. But I am realistic enough to recognize their successes when they have them. Today, I discovered some information on the upcoming release of Flight Simulator that has me excited about the franchise again. It's scheduled to be released at the end of 2006.
I own a copy of FS 1998, I believe. While I have toyed with the idea of upgrading (most recently with the 2004 version) I never have followed through with it in part because I felt the software was only improving incrementally, at least for how I planned to use it. But looking at the linked screenshots leaves me amazed at the level of detail. Yes, it's partly attributable to the advances in video cards and stuff, but the net result is that if this latest release of Flight Sim has the potential to finally offer the kind of experience I always dreamed of. The simulator will be relased for both Vista and XP, but the graphical limits will stretch out further on the newer operating system.
You see, my dreams of flying have always been in small aircraft, at low altitudes, where I can clearly see lots of detail in the world below me. Until now, (and presumably only with a high end computer to give a good frame rate) my low level flights have been over checkerboard landscapes, where I have had to use more imagination than navigation to determine where I was. I got in the habit of flying at night because the lights in darkness at least looked more real.
When Microsoft released the Xbox 360, many complained that it lacked the 'killer application' to drive users to the platform. With Flight Simulator X, it's safe to say that Windows Vista has that app, at least for me. Even though it's a full year away, I'm looking forward to next Christmas.