Want to Beta Test Microsoft Flight?

After over half a decade of radio silence, Microsoft's finally preparing to take the wraps off the newest iteration of its venerable flight simulation series. If you want to take Microsoft Flight out for a spin, Microsoft's accepting beta applications now.

You can get in on the action by clicking here, then typing in your Windows Live ID and entering a few screens' worth of information about yourself. And while you're waiting for Microsoft approval, have a look at the preliminary system requirements, released mid-last-month.

The team offers a welcome overview of how it's approaching performance, stating that it's been focused on performance optimization "from an early stage."

To achieve this, we constantly monitored game performance metrics across a range of hardware configurations and reacted each time we saw a new feature or code change that caused a dip below the established thresholds. The end result is that Flight looks fantastic on a brand new PC, but because of the emphasis on performance throughout development, it also runs well on older desktops and budget laptops.

To give you a sense of what that means, the company lists two sets of system specs, one that runs the game well on "low" graphic settings, a second that runs it well "high" settings. If you want to know what that translates as, visually speaking, the team offers two comparison screenshots that look about as you'd expect--the low detail one is aliased with sparse foliage and clouds, the high detail one is using anti-aliasing and has thicker tree and cloud coverage.

Still no word on when we'll see this, or when the beta's supposed to start, but I'd wager 2012's a safe bet with the beta app process underway now.

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