Microsoft Updates Flight Simulator

Long before the Xbox, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) had Flight Simulator. Designed to allow pilots and enthusiasts to practice flying from their living room, the program won the Guinness World Record for the longest-running video-game series in 2012, three decades after its debut.

Now, to the surprise of its most ardent fanatics who thought Microsoft had abandoned the market, the company is planning to update its Flight
Simulator X application for the first time since 2006. Earlier this month, the company said that sometime in 2020, consumers will be able to play it using Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service.

On its own, Flight Simulator is a niche product that experts say isn’t likely to move the needle for a company that generates over $30 billion in quarterly revenue. But the update could showcase some of the cutting-edge technology coming out of Microsoft, including mapping imagery from the Azure public cloud, and it plays into CEO Satya Nadella’s push toward subscription products and away from traditional packaged software.

Still, Microsoft may struggle to generate much excitement in a business that it helped popularize. That’s because consumers have moved onto smartphones and attention spans have been shortened from the quick hits of social media. A single flight on Flight Simulator can span several hours.

There are also rival products on the market. A simulator called X-Plane is developed by Laminar Research, and Lockheed Martin makes a program called Prepar3D.

Microsoft gained 46 cents to $137.43