For those out of the loop, VATSIM (Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network) is a free online platform for enthusiasts that links players from the various flight simulators on the market into one shared virtual world.
In practice, this means players can communicate with one another in a shared virtual airspace, role-play, share radar data, and simulate air traffic control for an even more immersive experience. As of 2018, VATSIM had 79,000 active members worldwide, collaborating to improve their flying skills and simulator experience.
A short teaser trailer implies Microsoft will incorporate VATSIM support into Microsoft Flight Simulator from launch on August 18th. Given the use of the term "partnership series", Microsoft will likely show more details of just how VATSIM will be integrated into the upcoming sim down the line, and possibly they will have other relevant partnerships to announced. We'll have to wait and see for a firm grasp on precisely what this means for players, but it's undoubtedly excellent news for those looking to simulate real-world flight conditions with like-minded enthusiasts.
The development update also reveals that Microsoft is hard at work preparing for the Closed Beta set to start on July 30th, next week. The publisher says it will publish full build notes at launch. New invitations are being sent out today, and Microsoft will continue to do so until the launch of the Closed beta. Those who receive invites between now and then will be able to jump in early via the Closed Beta Preview build.
Rounding-off the update is a selection of in-game snapshots captured by alpha testers. If they stand as any measure of what to expect from the final product, Microsoft Flight Simulator is sure to be packed full of eye candy and will deliver on the promise of being the most realistic flight sim to date.