Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Screenshot: Microsoft

Microsoft is reviving one of its oldest game franchises — Microsoft Flight Simulator — with a new version that uses ultra-realistic map data to fuel its sky-high ambitions.

The big picture: The new airplane simulator is both a nod to Microsoft's past and an advertisement for the company's present, relying on Bing Maps and Azure to build a game intended exclusively for Windows and Xbox users. It's also a technological marvel, recreating the entire planet in virtual space and setting players loose to fly every inch of it.

Details: The planes in the game and the overall flying experience are getting high marks for their fidelity to the real thing. But it's the game world that's drawing the most attention.

  • The game, built by French developer Asobo, uses Azure cloud-computing technology, pulling data from Bing Maps, to render the world as the player navigates it, filling it out with buildings, flora, fauna and dynamic weather.
  • The technique lets the game render faithful versions of real-world buildings and entire cities, as Azure synthesizes realistic models from different angles and data in Bing Maps' vast database of satellite and aerial imagery.

It's not perfect. There are varying levels of photorealism, with the game putting greater focus on closely simulating 341 world cities than other locales. (Not all airports are created equal, either. Some major airports were painstakingly built in-game by hand, while most are generated algorithmically.)

  • And Azure makes mistakes. For instance, it assumed Buckingham Palace — a large, blocky building in a prime London location — was an office complex and rendered it from certain angles accordingly.
  • But it is still a far more expansive, detailed and photoreal version of the world than its closest forebears, the built-in flight simulator in Google Earth and GeoFS, a flight simulator built around open-source maps.

Between the lines: Microsoft is looking to draw people into its ecosystem.

  • Mac users and PlayStation players are out of luck. Microsoft Flight Simulator only available for Windows to start — including on Xbox Game Pass for PC, Microsoft's subscription PC gaming service. It's slated to later come out for Xbox One and the next-generation Xbox Series X console.

Go deeper

The Microsoft case's long shadow over Google

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Microsoft's epic battle with the U.S. government from 1997-2002, the last major federal antitrust action in tech, casts a long shadow over today's Department of Justice lawsuit against Google — but the industry landscape today is profoundly different.

The big picture: Microsoft's legal ordeal came at a moment when its old competitors, like Apple, were on the ropes, and new competitors, like Google, were just launching. The antitrust case preoccupied Bill Gates and the rest of Microsoft's leadership for years and arguably gave all those competitors the breathing room to grow toward their current success.

11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional Hispanics want Lujan Grisham at HHS

Michelle Lujan Grisham arriving on Capitol Hill. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Hispanic lawmakers are openly lobbying to have New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham be named Health and Human Services secretary, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: These members are now following the example some Black lawmakers have used for weeks: trying to convince Joe Biden his political interests will be served by rewarding certain demographic groups with Cabinet picks.

3 hours ago - World

Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is the founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shown on the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."