Microsoft Flight Simulator is a big, meaty game. The Steam page says it needs at least 150GB of drive space, and the actual download is even bigger. Big games are a fact of life in this exciting digital era, but even so that's a whopper for anyone on a slow or dodgy internet connection.
Luckily for all of us (and especially the bad internet folks), the latest update reduces the size of that initial download by more than half, from over 170GB to just 83GB. Microsoft didn't reveal exactly how it managed to pull off this pants-tightening magic, saying only that "we performed some optimization for the initial full download of the title."
I checked for myself and sure enough, it has shrunk as promised. The initial Steam download weighs in at a little over 700MB, and once that's up and running the launcher will complete the installation by downloading another 81GB of data. That's still a whole lot o' downloading, but it's a big improvement over what it was.
Another big change is a reduction in weather data bandwidth usage, which could lead to better in-game performance. As we noted last year, Flight Sim uses a variety of streamed data to enable "real" weather, air traffic, and satellite information, and having it all running can take a toll on framerates, especially if you've got other things, like downloads or Netflix, eating up data in the background. The patch notes don't specify the amount of the reduction, but every little bit helps.
The patch introduces a number of changes to navigation, weather, and planes, and of course makes a number of bug fixes to the game and its editors. There's also a warning that VR users may experience crashes when exiting VR mode: Developers aren't completely certain why but suspect that OpenXR preview runtime v106 might play a role, so if you run into the problem, revert to the v105 runtime and see what that does for you. The full patch notes are up at flightsimulator.com.