Pretend your holiday wasn’t cancelled from next month: Microsoft Flight Simulator cleared for take-off

Plus: Teams goes Nationwide and gains new hardware, VS Code updates

In brief  While many fleshbags won’t trouble the inside of an aircraft this summer, Microsoft has thrown those on unplanned staycations a bone with the confirmed release date for its latest Flight Simulator: 18 August.…

In brief While many fleshbags won’t trouble the inside of an aircraft this summer, Microsoft has thrown those on unplanned staycations a bone with the confirmed release date for its latest Flight Simulator: 18 August.

It has been 38 years since the debut of the virtual cloud-botherer and a year since the company teased the faithful with the 2020 edition, replete with an impressively detailed simulation of the world.

Three flavours will be available, the $59.99 Standard edition (also on Xbox Games Pass for PC), $89.99 for the Deluxe and $119.99 for the Premium version. Each price bump will buy the wannabe pilot a few more aeroplanes and airports, although you’ll need all the bells and whistles to add London Heathrow or San Francisco Airport to the list.

Still, with 1.5 billion buildings, mountains, roads and rivers to look at, as well as dynamic weather and some impressive modelling, there should be plenty to occupy players until the real thing becomes an option for the masses once again.

Teams goes Nationwide

Last week Microsoft trumpeted the plans of UK building society Nationwide to adopt the Windows behemoth’s slack-for-suits platform, Teams.

Noting that 2.5 million video calls had been made by its locked-down employees in June, up 3,000 per cent on February’s figure, Nationwide claimed that a mere eight days were needed to get its digital hub up and running.

Screen shares apparently rose by 750 per cent over three months with 12,000 employees working from home and doubtless spending a fair amount of time yelling “Hello? Can you hear me?” into recalcitrant microphones. Just us then?

Perhaps a little ominously, Nationwide said it plans to “integrate Teams into every meeting room”, describing the platform not as a contingency service, but something it will “continue to build on in the future.”

Teams hardware powered by… Cortana

Nationwide’s observation came as Microsoft unveiled the vaguely toe-curling and slightly Muppet Show-like “Together” mode for Teams, as well as new hardware for the platform.

Microsoft Teams displays, such as the Lenovo ThinkSmart View, have followed on from the handsets introduced by the company a few years ago and are designed to be a companion device for a PC. The diminutive screens shift activities, notifications and the like from a user’s main screen to something that put us in mind of an Amazon Echo Show.

Demonstrating that there is life in the old virtual assistant yet, the devices will also make use of Cortana for barked instructions from the user and, according to Microsoft, are “glanceable ambient personalizable displays” although the company was a little tight-lipped when it came to what those options (other than wallpapers) might be.

Still, should you be a Teams user and fancy spanking $349.99 on something with an eight-inch screen that runs Android, Microsoft said it wants to hear from you “later this year.” Well, as long as you’re in the US. The Cortana experience is destined for the wider world “in the future.”

Visual Studio Code no longer Arm-less

The Windows on Arm support in developer darling VS Code has moved from the bleeding edge world of VS Insiders to the release version with the June 2020 emission (v1.47.)

As with a worrying amount of Microsoft software, it has been a while coming. Although its flagship Surface Pro X put in an appearance last year, replete with Arm-powered silicon, it took until 2020 before a native version of the company’s own Edge browser was available, and July for a stable build of VS Code for Windows in Arm.

More useful than the somewhat niche Arm support was the new JavaScript debugger, which has lurked as the default option for Insiders. The update also featured source control improvements and TypeScript 3.9.6. A preview of TypeScript 4.0 is available for the brave.

The nightly build of the latter is also being used to build VS Code itself. ®

Rojenx is a leading concept artist who work appears in games and publications

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