It should not come as a surprise, as Microsoft killed its own Flight Simulator when the program reached the nice age of 25 years, but now Microsoft somehow managed to kill my installation of FSX-SE too. Goodbye FSX!
I’ve had Microsoft Flight Simulator installed in my hard drive(s) throughout the years, across the different computers I’ve used. I played with Flight Simulator starting its version 3.0, from 1988, but really picked it up the next version, and never stopped using it, as it was my “always installed” simulation, although I’ve used everything from Sierra’s ProPilot to Fly or Flight Unlimited. Even tried X-Plane, but never really felt attracted, although from what I see these days, it’s a powerhouse to consider. Even more so as one can consider that FSX, even on its FSX-SE version, is probably better left alone, because the world is moving to 64bit and beyond.
I know the platform is stable these days, but if you’re starting, it’s probably better to look elsewhere, as FSX-SE, which is the only option to be considered now, is also condemned, and will always represent a dead end and, as I’ve explained previously, a bad option if you want to be able to move your collection of third party airplanes to a simulation like Prepar3D. I know that the EULA questions around Prepar3D continue to cause some concern, but I believe that’s something that will be settled in the future, as I believe DoveTail Games, responsible for the failed FlightSim World, will quit the flightsim scene and leave FSX-SE too.
This introduction is getting long, but I believe this explanation is important to settle the stage for me leaving FSX-SE. Although I’ve invested in Prepar3D, even more so after I understood that DoveTail Games promises for FlightSim World were not going to happen, I kept FSX-SE running, because it was working just about fine, and I had some aircraft, from A2A’s Cessna 172 to Flight1’s Cessna Citation Mustang or Carenado’s DA40, that I could not port to Prepar3D. I also had specific tools for enhancing the sim that I liked and did not want to scrap… yet.
So, I kept FSX-SE and Prepar3D, and would use one or the other according to the airplane I wanted to fly. And even if Prepar3D is a 64bit program, the 32bit FSX-SE continued to run rather well and I felt no need to remove it, as it represented, somehow, even in its actual Steam shape, a link to the past and my path in flight simulation. Well, that has ended now, and it was Microsoft’s fault!
The Windows 10 update from April 2018, crashed many machines, sending them in a loop and in many cases forcing users to reinstall the whole Windows 10. I was one of the unlucky ones, and my perfectly stable machine, with a Windows installation and a whole bunch of software I had just recently — and I mean recently — ported from a HDD to a 500GB Samsung 860 EVO, stopped working, and there was no way to get my Windows back to anything. Meaning all my games and simulations on the second drive also became dead weight as the links to the C: disk were gone.
If there’s a good thing about having to reinstall Windows and your other software is that you tend to imagine new strategies to not fall prey of the same problem, or at least prevent it. Also, you tend to find out that you do not need to install many of the things you had filling your SDD or HDD, as you rarely use them or even completely forgot they are there.
Faced with the need to restart, I decided to take the matters at hand with a more strategic approach, and go ahead with some ideas I had in mind. So I saved what I needed to save from the “games” disk, and wiped it clean. In the process, I decided that I was not going to reinstall FSX-SE, so it really is a goodbye, and one triggered by Microsoft actions. It’s ironic, in fact, as after all, it was almost a decade ago that Microsoft “killed” its Flight Simulator, in 2009. So now, Microsoft, you’ve managed to completely wipe from my computer a simulation that has been part of my life, through different versions, for 30 years. Goodbye FSX, and Godspeed.
The story does not end here, though, and I want to share with you my strategy regarding flight simulations. With FSX-SE out of the way and the need to reinstall everything, I’ve decided to dedicate a whole disk to flight simulation, so I bought a 1TB SanDisk 3D NAND SSD where I’ve installed, this last week, my base collection: Prepar3D V4 is now installed, as is DCS, both the final and the beta version — yes, with the Persian Gulf and the new Hornet, more about this in the future. I completely dropped FlightSim World as, no matter how nice the aircraft are, it’s a dead end now — and for nice aircraft I’ve DCS… which works as promised — and I don’t intend to install Flight, which I also had installed to check a few things, or even the X-Plane demonstration (which is nice, btw, but I’ve little time).
I’ve not yet decided if I will reinstall Rise of Flight, which was somehow dormant on my computer, and I am not sure if I will install Elite: Dangerous on the flight sims SSD or in the 2TB Seagate Firecuda used for games and simulation add-ons that do not need to be accessed constantly. There is also a series of small programs associated with flight simulation which I will look at in the coming weeks and decide if it makes sense to reinstall them. Right now I want to keep things simple and clean!
Reinstalling flight sims is not just about installing the sim itself, but also the add-ons, and in the case of Prepar3D V4 it’s a time consuming task. I had to reinstall the Orbx sceneries, of which I’ve a few by now, Rex SkyForce3D, which continues to not work as promised, even with the new patch, AFAICS, and Pilot’s FS Global Ultimate NG, which I acquired in its DVD version (there was no other option at the time) and is a real PITA to install. I’ve contacted Pilot’s asking them if early adopters of the program could have access to a download version and was told DVD is fine… which it isn’t. Moving all that to my SSD was a slow experience and I had to be around all the time to change DVDs. In that sense, installing Orbx sceneries was a breeze: I just clicked the install button and the software took care of the rest. With Global, Vector, Trees, Europe and North America LC and eight different areas and some airports, it’s a lot of GBs to transfer and it simply works. Better than Pilot’s prehistoric DVD…
If there is one thing I miss leaving FSX is A2A’s Cessna 172, which I acquired when it was launched, and it worked for both FSX and Prepar3D. Since A2A decided to have separate versions, I cannot update — AFAIK — my old Cessna 172, and I am not in the mood to pay for a new version. I will stick to the Cessna 337 from Carenado, which anyways has always been my main aircraft in the FSX universe, Prepar3D included, although the Cessna 172 will be missed.
I also lost A2A’s Piper Cub, and the other two planes already mentioned: Citation Mustang and DA40. The DA40, I will miss, as I discovered the aircraft in FlightSim World and, although the Carenado version is different, it was nice to fly around. I must say, though, that these days most of my time is spent on DCS, which has reached a graphic level that is hard to find elsewhere. Besides, the simulation side of it is impressive — let me say this again… IMPRESSIVE — and with version 2.5 around, even Prepar3D with all the Orbx sceneries looks less appealing than Eagle Dynamics software. And it is free, with two excellent aircrafts.
I guess this is what I wanted to share with you, right now. I’ve some more to write about these sims, but this time I wanted to explain why and how, after 30, I am leaving Microsoft Flight Simulator. Microsoft killed it again, now with a Windows 10 update. Or killed, at least for me, the reason to reinstall it. Going forward, anyway, and if you care about flight sims, I believe it makes sense to look for a 64bit platform, and one that keeps its promises and is moving forward.