Players will be able to sign up and fly soon, as the alpha tests for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 are open twice between now and the end of November. Registration for the first round ends next week. Confirmation will be on October 17, before the game begins on October 24. The dates for the November meeting still need to be set.

If actual flying is not enough to seduce you, the team has launched a vlog series for subscribers who sign up for the Microsoft Flight Simulator Insider program. The videos titled "Feature Discovery" are about creating and developing the latest version of the popular pilot simulation.

The first entry – copied and uploaded to YouTube (Prost, PCGamer!) – is about how you can rebuild our world so that you can fly from Mount Everest to the house you grew up in, and back again. It was not an easy task to rebuild the Earth so specifically. That included huge amounts of data – actually two petabytes – including two million cities, 45,000 airports, and every street and every mountain on the planet. This remarkable level of detail unlocks all new possibilities of airplane flying in the game. "Not only do they have the whole world, but they also fit in with the real world, and the big consequence of that is that VFR [Visual Flight Rules] is available for everyone, "explains Lionel Fuentes, lead engine programmer, in the video. "With Visual Flight Rules, you can fly your plane by relying on visual cues in the environment, such as where you see a city or a river, and you can deduce where you are going."

In addition, Microsoft Azure's cloud streaming technology is used to generate even more detail. In Azure, the minutiaes, such as the placement of the trees, the placement of the state-of-the-art buildings and the colors of the roofs, are accurate, allowing for a true-to-life replication of the environments you want to drive over.

Using an example of an island near New Guinea, Fuentes says that without the help of Azure, this island would look a bit shallow, while at Azure, forestry and housing are exactly what they are in real life. Fuentes assures players that an offline mode is available that uses only the built-in data.

You can sign up next week if you want to be among the first to jump into the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 cockpit.