Microsoft Flight Simulator alpha and beta test signups are open

The return of Microsoft Flight Simulator, revealed with a stunning trailer at the Xbox press event at E3, stirred up a surprising amount of interest around these parts. And if you got the same sort of nostalgic twinge when you saw those big hangar doors sliding open, you can now sign up for the Flight Simulator Insider Program, which offers behind-the-scenes updates on development through private forums and "exclusive" weekly newsletters, plus—this is the big one—opportunities to take part in technical alpha and beta builds.

That doesn't mean you'll be winging around carefree in the big blue sky, as these tests sound like, you know, tests

"Each build will have a specific set of content/functionality meant to provide a slice of the overall experience. These builds will be time gated and limited to a specific number of Insiders," Microsoft explained. 

"As with all Preview builds, we expect some turbulence along the way but we are committed to doing our best to ensure we get you into smoother air, as quickly as possible. We view Preview Build participation is a critical step in our path to building the next generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator and look forward to working closely with you!" 

The goal is to get everyone who signs up into the preview program at some point, but it's unlikely that everyone will get access to every preview session. Microsoft said that it will "target specific Insiders" who best align with the goals and objectives for each specific preview build, and if you're not selected for one preview session you'll still be eligible for more in the future. 

To take part in the testing sessions, you'll need to have an Xbox account and be signed up for the Insiders program, as content, updates, and other information will be provided via the Xbox Insiders Hub. You'll also need to be at least 18 years of age, so you can legally consent to the collection of personal information that's governed by privacy laws. If you fit that bill, you can find out more and put your name into the hat at

Thanks, Alpha Beta Gamer

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.