I do have my own thoughts on what Microsoft are trying to accomplish here, but so far all we have to go on is a bunch of screenshots and some very short videos, so we can only speculate. I did mention my thoughts on another forum, but this was dismissed early on, although I do think that this is because of the flightsim community in general, which tends to believe that FS is the only pure and proper use of a PC, and that MS's ultimate goal is to serve the FS community. I don't believe this at all, I think that MS are looking to become the one and only solution for world-building and visualisation, and FS is a good place to start as the community is kind of vocal...
I guess the question is 'is it going to be revolutionary, or just a major update to what we have?' So far, the things which are important to me -- as a non-aviator, and with very little interest in the technical aspects of aviation -- are well-covered, the lighting/atmosphere, ground detail, autogen etc. It's a better-looking sim and nothing else gets close at the moment. One thing I learnt when I started looking at developing for X-plane was that I didn't really have anything local to compare, so it wasn't until I dropped in some photoscenery of my own that I could see the potential. So seeing the Tekapo (although I am a keen supporter of the new name, Takapō) video, which is an area I first covered in FS2002, and have updated over the years for FSX and Prepar3d, I've had the chance to actually make an early comparison.
I did post a comparison screenshot from P3D on the AVSIM Takapō vid discussion, but I do have some thoughts on the video, which I wouldn't share there. My comparison screenshot was in reply to a question about the lighting/angle/bloom etc. The pronounced blooming may or may not be accurate, but I think it does show something which Prepar3d HDR doesn't depict well, the fact that looking into the sun is going to strongly affect what you see, as the bright bits -- in this case the clouds -- are going to be very, very bright compared to everything else. Bloom is a good way to depict this, otherwise all you can do is to wash it out to pure white, which is not realistic.
The main thing which struck me with that video, though, is the fact that it must be winter, because of the angle of the sun, but there is almost no snow depicted. So like Real NZ scenery, it seems to be summer only:) This makes sense because of the photo base, and MS may come up with a solution, but if not some of the community are going to be annoyed.
I don't think I'll sign up for the first Tech Alpha, as I need to sort out some extra storage at some point. I may want to get involved later on when/if there's a SDK test (that's how I got involved in the FSX beta) but I'll leave it to the real simmers in the meantime. I do think that a lot of people are going to breach the NDA, though, so maybe those of us not involved won't miss out much.
Some more random ramblings:
If the new sim really works out, people will need to come around to using the word 'xbox', which seems to be very offensive to a lot of simmers at the moment:)
Although we all have our favourite sims, and tend to clump into our own communities, which may not change much in the near future, I do think that in general 'people' (which includes non hard-core simmers) would prefer one sim to rule them all. Microsoft have what it takes to make this happen, provided they don't just wander off somewhere and get lost;
As far a scenery development is concerned, we already have far too many sims, so bugger MS. I'm kidding... Hopefully I'll be too old and retired to have to worry about the new one.