I recently posted that Flight Gear released 1.0.0 (thanks to my friend itguy0909).
My wife got me a copy of Flight Simulator X for Christmas however.
Having heard and read that Flight Simulator X was both a pain to install, a resource (CPU) hog and generally no better than Fligh Simulator 2004 I was a bit ambivalent about it.
But much to my surprise it installed easily (once I turned off my firewall) and ran well (with stunning graphics as promised) once I made a few settings tweaks (setting the video at 16 bit instead of 32 bit).
Microsoft Flight Simulator X Deluxe DVD
Having also played Flight Gear, there are a number of reasons that one might choose to pay Microsoft a nominal fee for a game that on first glance has a similar look and feel.
First and foremost, Microsoft has done a great job of incorporating games, missions and educational materials into their flight simulator. Flight Gear, has some of those features, but they aren't bundled into one package. Also, from my experience they're not quite as developed as Flight Sim's.
Secondly Microsoft has included some great AI air traffic, sea traffic and dynamic weather into their simulator. Again, Flight Gear has these options, but my experience with them has been less than stellar. The same goes for GPS functionality. While it is available in Flight Gear, one must have a working knowledge of Unix to add into the Flight Gear package.
Last, the Air Traffic Controller functions which simulate actual flight communication with a control tower or adjacent air traffic is wonderful for simulating true flight. Real life flying involves lots of communication, and Microsoft did a great job of making it as realistic as possible.
Perhaps the best feature of Microsoft Flight Sim is that preparation for your private pilot's license will be both shorter and more meaningful. When it comes time to spend some hours in ground school and in the cockpit of your training aircraft you will have a much greater, less gamier, knowledge of flying with MS Flight Sim.
All in all, I've been quite happy with the installation and the gameplay/mission play of Microsoft Flight Simulator X. I look forward to continuing my flight training in preperation of obtaining my private pilot's license!