Added: 25 May 2011
Version 4 followed in 1989, and brought several improvements over MSFS3. These included amongst others; improved aircraft models, as well as an upgraded model of the Cessna Skylane, programmable dynamic scenery (non-interactive air and ground traffic on and near airports moving along static prerecorded paths). The basic version of FS4 was available also for Macintosh computers.
A large series of add-on products were produced for FS4 between 1989 and 1993. First from Microsoft & the Bruce Artwick Organization (BAO) came the Aircraft and Scenery Designer (ASD) integration module. This allowed FS4 users to quite easily build, on the fly from directly within the program, custom scenery units know as SC1 files which could be used within FS4 and traded with other users (this activity was quite popular in the FS Forum on CompuServe). Also, ASD provided the addition of the Aircraft Designer Module. Again, from directly within the program the user could select one of two basic type aircraft frames (prop or jet) and proceed to parameter customizations ranging over 4 pages of flight envelope details and visual aspects. Finally, ASD provided additional aircraft including a 747 with a custom dash/cockpit (which required running in 640 x 350 resolution).
|Review of FS4.0b|
Added: 10 Jun 2012
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0B
We all find it easy to complain, even if "...nobody listens anyway." If it is
fair to complain, it is equally fair to praise above-average performance,
particularly when the party concerned has actually taken the time and effort to
listen to, and address complaints made by, users of their product. Microsoft
Corporation of Redmond, Washington is certainly deserving of such praise for its
recent release of a maintenance update for the ever-popular FLIGHT SIMULATOR
program. (This review is based on the IBM-PC version.)
Last year, I reviewed version 4.0 of Microsoft FLIGHT SIMULATOR for THE
ELECTRONIC GAMER. My prediction at that time has certainly proven true: The
Flight Simulator section of The Gamers' Forum (GO GAMERS) on CompuServe has been
alive with comments and activities pertaining to version 4.0 ever since its
release. The message section has been buzzing with questions, hints, complaints,
suggestions, and general chat concerning this fine program. Other recent
activities in the forum have included a "Demo Contest" that had forum members
using the "Demo Recorder" function of FLIGHT SIMULATOR to produce and share
recorded versions of their flying adventures, as well as what was probably the
first ever "Computerized Aviation Fly-In," utilizing the multi-player function
of the program. Both events were highly successful and will no doubt become
annual or semi-annual events. (High praise has indeed been earned by Section
Leaders Rick Lee and Jeff Horrocks, who organized and orchestrally conducted the
Of course, the star of the show was FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0, without which none
of this could have taken place. Many participants' experiences were enhanced by
the fact that they were flying the new version of the program: 4.0b.
In the background of all the activity that followed the release of FLIGHT
SIMULATOR V. 4.0 (in the fall of 1989) lurked representatives of the Bruce
Artwick Organization and Microsoft, who jointly produce the program. In response
to issues addressed in the forum, and comments from users in general, they made
an updated version available to all registered users of FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0
in February of 1990. In the paragraphs that follow, I will briefly highlight the
PC pilots whose computers use DTK BIOS will be particularly pleased with
release 4.0b. A lack of true IBM-compatibility prevented the program from
recognizing the keyboard when the DTK BIOS was present. Although this did not
indicate a fault within the FLIGHT SIMULATOR product, it was a matter that
warranted attention. Release 4.0b is compatible with DTK BIOS.
Users of version 4.0b are finally able to taxi around Flight Simulatordom with
relative ease by comparison to the ham-fisted operation required by version 4.0.
The aircraft now slows realistically when power is reduced to idle, and the
turning radius has been decreased sufficiently to allow 360-degree turns within
the confines of most runways. I must admit that the difficulty experienced while
taxiing was my biggest complaint about the earlier version, and the fix has been
most successful in restoring any lost enthusiasm for this program.
The tendency of the aircraft to constantly experience heading drift to the left
has been corrected, despite the fact that it could easily have been brushed off
as a consequence of torque. Not so easily brushed off was the previous lack of
power available on the generic Lear Jet. Happily, the Lear now has power to
Many users offered unfavorable comments concerning the severity of the
turbulence generated by the "Weather Generator" option, and the horizon that
jumped about while doing carrier approaches in spot view. Both of these
anomalies have been corrected.
In addition to the major corrections, several lesser anomalies have been
addressed. Many of these may have gone unnoticed by most users, but I will
mention them in the interest of completeness:
Joystick interaction with keyboard elevator trim has been improved, and an
editorial change has been made to the "Joystick" menu option. Another nice touch
is the loading of non-default joystick sensitivities, which may be associated
with the "Startup Mode."
Creation of a new "Startup Demo" previously corrupted the former startup demo,
rendering it unusable. This has been corrected.
The mode library list no longer defaults to the first page when invoked. It
remains at the last page selected by the "See more modes" key sequence.
COM2 is now available to multi-player users, who may also notice that CONNECT
functionality has been improved.
A misuse of the system clock that caused unwanted changes to the logbook dates
has now been corrected.
Version 4.0b elevates FLIGHT SIMULATOR to a standard that perhaps should have
been achieved in the release of version 4.0. More important than the content of
the release is the commendable manner in which Microsoft addressed the concerns
of its users. At a time when the software industry is so rapidly expanding, such
a display of good faith and user support is refreshing. Microsoft FLIGHT
SIMULATOR is still the de facto standard in PC-based flight simulation software,
and release 4.0b places Microsoft's level of customer support at the top of the
heap, as well. Bravo!
If you are a registered owner of FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0, you may obtain your
copy of the update by calling Microsoft Customer Service at (206) 882-8088. You
will be expected to comment on at least one of the problems associated with the
original release. They will then require your name and address as listed on your
registration card, and the disk format you prefer.
For CompuServe subscribers, an alternative method of getting the new release is
to leave a message to the Customer Service Representative (76701,267) in the
Microsoft Applications Forum (GO MSAPP). Be sure you include the information
mentioned above in your message.
Microsoft is now shipping version 4.0b to its distributors. There are no
package markings to distinguish this version, and there are probably quite a
number of packages containing the old software still on the shelves. If you are
about to purchase Microsoft FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0, it might be a good idea to
ask your dealer how long the package has been sitting on the shelf. The dealer
may even allow you to check out the software before you take it home. The
easiest way to ascertain the version number is to place the diskette in an
appropriate drive, and at the DOS prompt, type "VOL" . The volume label
should read "FLTSIM V40B."
System Requirements remain the same as for FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0:
o IBM Personal Computer, XT, AT, Personal System/2 or compatible.
o At least 384K of RAM for the IBM PC with CGA. Other graphics
adaptors may require more memory. If so, the program will specify
this requirement when you begin.
o At least one floppy disk drive (double sided, low- or high-density).
o Color Graphics Adaptor (CGA), Enhanced Graphics Adaptor (EGA), Video
Graphics Array (VGA), Personal System/2 Graphics System, or Hercules
Monochrome or InColor Card.
o Appropriate monitor for your graphics adaptor.
o MS-DOS PC-DOS (version 2.0 or later).
o Hard disk drive.
o One or two joysticks or a control yoke, and an IBM-compatible Game
Control Adaptor Card.
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0B is published and distributed by Microsoft.
*****DOWNLOADED FROM P-80 SYSTEMS (304) 744-2253
Added: 10 Jun 2012
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0
After reading with envy all the initial comments in The Gamers' Forum about
Microsoft's newest version of its ever popular FLIGHT SIMULATOR (FS), I finally
managed to get my hands on a copy. I picked it up on my way home from work, then
giggled with anticipation the whole way -- a curious sight for more than one
passing motorist. Even more curious was the fact that I'd just finished three
days of milk-run-type flying, and here I was looking forward to more of the same
using my computer. Unfortunately, weekend chores and a couple of minor household
emergencies delayed takeoff until the evening hours, and even then, I was
limited to a brief local flight out of Meigs Field. (This review is based on the
My first reaction to the new software was disappointment. If FS 3.0 was lame,
then FS 4.0 seemed to be in even worse shape. While sitting on the button of
runway 36 checking out FS 4.0's avionics, "Ace McCool" in a blue and white
Cessna cut right in front of me and jerkily accelerated down the runway (jerk
being the key word here). By this time, I had realized that at least I was in
familiar surroundings; nothing of consequence on the panel had been moved or
rearranged from the previous version. I decided it was time to get "these
laughter silvered wings up there into the tumbling mirth."
With full throttle applied, the engine was developing only 2358 RPM. Were the
new flight equations causing this sluggish performance, or were the reduced revs
indicative of my struggling 8088 CPU running feverishly at 8Mhz, trying to keep
up with the graphics? I decided to beat it around the circuit and land as
quickly as possible. The pattern was flown roughly, and my over-corrections
caused the aircraft to wing-walk all the way. With some difficulty, I managed to
get the "thing" around the patch and back onto the ground. (Notice I did not say
"runway.") At least it didn't tend to climb like a homesick angel each time I
rolled on more than a few degrees of bank, as it did in FS 3.0.
At this point, I went to my bed mumbling that this inexpensive program would
end up costing me thousands. I was not about to give up on FLIGHT SIMULATOR, but
was I ready to spring for a 20Mhz screamer, just so I could do on my spare
evenings what I get paid to do at work?
The next day, my first stop was the control tower, where I spent twenty minutes
watching the dynamic scenery do "its" thing using the full screen tower view.
The "Jerk" was still out there flying his blue and white Cessna, along with all
the other traffic in the circuit. Admittedly, I was already being won over. In
fact, I was fascinated.
Before attempting a few circuits in the generic Cessna, from the Views menu I
turned off the dynamic scenery and activated the four-small-dot axis indicator.
(I usually fly with these dots activated: Once you get used to them, they help
compensate for the lack of depth perception common to all versions of FLIGHT
SIMULATOR.) By keeping the dots in the touchdown zone, I'd been able to land
pretty much on the money with a good deal of regularity. However, that was not
the case this morning. The Cessna still seemed to lack the stability I was
accustomed to. In addition to my obvious excessive control inputs, the torque of
the engine kept causing the nose to swing to the left. On final approach, a
higher than normal body angle made my axis indicator useless as a landing aid,
and the power required to maintain an acceptable glide path exaggerated the
torque swing. It was obviously time to go back to the drawing board.
The aircraft design module included with FS 4.0 is the highlight of the
package. In no time, I was able to whip up my SIMSTAR-88 design and test it to
my complete satisfaction. I now had a much more stable and familiar platform
from which to fly. It might be my imagination, but it seemed to work better with
the dynamic scenery turned on, as well. Several attempts were required to
correctly size the tail and build in the proper dihedral in order to partially
counteract the torque swing, but a cross-country test flight from Chicago to
Cincinnati (SCENERY DISK #9) indicated dramatically improved handling
At last I was satisfied that, yes, I could live with this new product. In fact,
I was beginning to like it...until I started to taxi to the ramp: Brake failure!
No, not really. As in previous versions, if you touch almost any other key while
applying the brakes, brake pressure will be immediately released, and you'll
have to re-apply them. Unfortunately, brake effectiveness and radius of turn
have been degraded in FS 4.0, making ground operations a totally "ham-fisted"
operation. An old rule of thumb from the early days of aviation states, "Never
taxi faster than a man can walk." This is especially true in FLIGHT SIMULATOR V.
4.0. If you taxi too slowly, though, somebody in an A-310 or a Lear Jet will
come speeding down the ramp and run you over. Those turkeys have no respect for
the rules of the air! (They exceed 250 knots below 10,000 feet, too.)
The IBM-PC version of FLIGHT SIMULATOR 4.0 requires an IBM PC, XT, AT, Personal
System/2, or compatible. CGA, EGA, VGA, PS/2 Graphics System, and Hercules
Monochrome or InColor Card are the graphics modes supported. You'll need at
least 384K of RAM for CGA graphics, and perhaps more memory for other adapters
(in an amount that the program will specify when it begins). FS 4.0 runs on at
least one floppy disk drive (double-sided, low- or high-density); it's not
copy-protected, so you may install it on your hard drive, and make backup
copies. Note that when you register the program, you'll receive the free
Just one day of testing this new version of FLIGHT SIMULATOR is not enough to
fully explore its quirks (or to find many of its pleasant surprises), but I've
made a few observations, most of which are positive. The dynamic scenery and
weather add realism to the program environment, as do improved runway lighting
systems. However, the impact of these improvements is diminished by the fact
that a relatively fast '286 or '386 machine is required to fully exploit a
simulation program that allows you to fly through polka-dot clouds on an ILS
approach to a fully-lighted grass runway (like those at Chicago O'Hare).
Some flight characteristics have been improved, and some have been degraded.
Fortunately, the aircraft design feature allows you to modify most of these
characteristics to suit, and this alone makes FS 4.0 well worth the purchase
price. There is enough in this program to keep any avid flight simulator pilot
delightfully occupied for many hours. However, if you're a beginner at flight
simulation, or if you're running one of the slower machines, you may want to
stick to an earlier version until you're comfortable with the basics. In any
event, I'm sure that CompuServe's Gamers' Forum, as well as the anomaly reports
of the Computer Pilots Association of America, will be full of discussion for
months to come.
As for me, well, I'll be flying my SIMSTAR-88 around FLIGHT SIMULATOR 4.0
territory until something better comes along. It _is_ an improvement over FS
3.0, and I've already put in my order for a 20Mhz '386 screamer. I sure hope
Santa is feeling flush this Christmas!
The following descriptions of operational problems have been compiled by Rick
Lee, GAMERS' Flight Simulators Section Leader:
-:- Taxiing is unrealistic and very difficult: The turning radius of the plane
is huge, the brakes are not very effective, and there is no ground friction.
-:- There is still room for only six Scenery Disks in the menu.
-:- Access to the modes is very awkward. (You should at least be able to scroll
backwards through the list.)
-:- The joystick sensitivity adjustments for the Throttle and Rudder on
Joystick B are mislabeled: The labels are reversed.
-:- The plane tends to bank a very small amount to the left, and drift to the
left about one degree every 40 seconds. There has been a lot of discussion as to
whether this was supposed to simulate torque, swirling prop wash, or P-Factor;
but since it happens on the jets also, it's usually attributed to a bug. (This
will not happen until the ailerons have been moved after taking off.)
-:- The Elevator Trim feature still does not work with a joystick. The trim
movements are canceled by any joystick movement.
-:- The joystick sensitivities are not loaded automatically on startup. Hitting
PrintScreen will load the sensitivities.
-:- The Multi-Player Function is still very buggy. The program will often
freeze up for no reason while in the MP menu. The plane pauses while the user is
typing a message. This may have been intentional, but most serious users want to
do a lot of formation flying, which means that messages cannot be sent without
spoiling the formation. Often, when landing after a trip, the two planes are
seen at different altitudes. Your own plane will be on the ground, but the other
plane may be seen floating ten feet off the ground, or even under the ground
-:- The Auto-Pilot Nav1 Lock does not function properly.
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR V. 4.0 is published and distributed by Microsoft,
*****DOWNLOADED FROM P-80 SYSTEMS (304) 744-2253