MS Store purchased airports slow down sim start significantly!

Because I had very long sim start times I decided to look into this in a bit more detail. This post is describing what I did and what I found.

Problem
My sim took 13+ mins to start from clicking the App icon to the main menu although I do have good hardware (see below background [0]).

To understand better what is attributing to the load times I used the Sysinternals Process Monitor to see what the process is doing during startup. This led me to the following hypothesis and a way to test this:

Hypothesis:

  1. Airports purchased and downloaded through the MS Store are slowing down the sim startup significantly.
  2. This is mostly caused by the DRM encryption of certain files.

Test Process:

I have four airports I have bought in MS Store and separately from the vendors [1]. So I had 4 airports from the same vendors. One version to be installed in Official folder by MSFS and one version to be installed in the Community folder by the vendor’s installers (or manually).

3 Test Scenarios:

  1. Base Reference: Empty Community, purchased airports uninstalled from Official (EDDM, EDDK, EDDS, LSZH), other purchases remained.

  2. Install non MS airports into Community (EDDM, EDDK, EDDS, LSZH)

  3. Remove non MS airports, download and install the MS Store version of the same airports ( (EDDM, EDDK, EDDS, LSZH)

Test Measurements:
Measure 3 starts from clicking the icon to the main menu.

Note: After installation I started a flight at each airport once to eliminate any caching effects before measuring. No other changes to the system between tests.

Result Data (in min):

  1. Base: 4:12, 4:00, 4:01
  2. Community versions: 3:57, 4:05, 4:00
  3. Official versions: 10:05, 9:45, 9:30, 9:43 (4 measurements because of the larger difference)

Note: not the absolute times are relevant (as there are many factors influencing these) but the significant difference in startup time.

Conclusion

Airports purchased and installed through the MS Store significantly add to the sim’s startup time!
(Best case +5:18min Worst case 6:05min for the four airports mentioned above.)

Airports purchased directly from the vendor and installed in Community have no measurable effect on the sim’s startup time!

Observation and hypothesis 2:
During startup with MS Store airports it could be observed that there are a huge amount of ReadFile operation to the encrypted Bgl.fsarchive files of these airports. [2]
Therefore an assumption is that the DRM encryption plays a significant role in the slow startup of the sim when MS Store purchased airports are used.

Looking forward to feedback and maybe other persons who are willing to repeat this test so confirm its accuracy.

[0] Background:
Microsoft Store version, Empty Community apart from what is described below, no Developer Mode
Relevant hardware: Samsung 830 EVO 4TB SSD, 64GB RAM, CPU i9-10900KF, Nvidia2080Ti

[1] 4 Airports purchased twice - why?
Unfortunately not only startup performance is an issue but also the fact that the MS DRM encryption prevents 3rd party tools like Little Navmap or Aivlasoft EFB2 to read airport data to create airport maps of gates and taxi ways. This and performance made me decide to invest in purchasing these airports a second time directly from the vendors.

[2] Process Monitor during startup with MS Store airports


Many of the Marketplace add-ons are still awaiting an update with most of the delay being for Microsoft code checking and encryption (they are trying to improve things, more manpower etc.).

I’m sure MS would advise that you postpone from using them but I will go one further and recommend uninstalling all of those not updated or not working correctly until an update is available.

I’m not sure I understand the relevance to my post in your reply?!

I’m talking about a general issue when using purchased airports and their impact on sim startup times.Has nothing to do with updates or anything. The airports work fine. And why would MS advise not using purchased airports?

You are talking a general issue when many of them are still faulty and could skew your findings and if in your words they work fine then why this thread? After every SU MS/Asobo have always said if an addon is problematic then try not to use it before an update or hotfix is available, while I say uninstalling is safer and it will still remain available for download later.

They are not problematic at all and I have no issues with the airports themselves.
Also also I have two versions of the 4 airports I tested - MS Store and direct purchase from vendor. All work fine.

I talk explicitly about impact of MS Store purchased airports on startup time of the sim! That has nothing to do with functionality or issues with the specific airport. I even have more MS Store purchased airports and they all have the same negative impact on sim startup times. But as I do not have them twice for comparison I did not use them for the test.

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Ok I believe you but some of them do or did have problems most noticably with frame drops on approach but also CTD’s. All I’m trying to say is that unpacking them might also be a problem yet to be addressed by Microsoft and thus could be skewing your figures.
However I will give you the benefit of the doubt if it’s every store item as a small delay is unavoidable but for any simmer not measuring this as you have done just a single problematic addon could possibly double their waiting time because from what can I see it is all done sequentially.

It is not every store item. I have aircraft as well and also some smaller airport which do not show an issue.

My main point is that I have 4 airports which I have twice - same vendor (Justsim, Aerosoft, FSDreamteam), same airports.

Using the Community versions of these airports has no, really, no impact on sim startup time.
Using the same airports from the MS Store the sim start up is much much slower. For only 4 airports already 5-6 minutes slower.

So the issue is in the comparison between purchasing from MS Store (and installing in Official with encrypted files) and purchasing directly (and install in Community without encryption).

Hope that makes the point I’m trying to make clearer.

It does but it could still be a bug rather than a general rule and bugs do get fixed (eventually)

Yes it could be an issue which applies to all airports purchased in MS Store. That is my point.
It is very unlikely that it is an issue of these 4 airports alone.

That is why I also asked others to repeat the test. You can as well :slight_smile:

That I can’t because I tend not to buy airports from the store, in fact mostly I’m happy with the default ones and the only add-on AP I have is Superspud’s EGNS which as an islander I find fantastic but it is not available in the store.


Hi, I have an AMD 5950X and I’ve noticed very long load times as well. I took a look at task manager to see how many cores/threads were being utilised during the point at which the SIM loads the mods. There are only 3 threads that are being utilised out of 32

I suspect this might have something to do with it.

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That has nothing to do with the issue I describe or the test I conducted as it is how MSFS works no matter if you use an airport in the Official folder (from the MS Store) or installed in the Community folder.

Experiencing the same. It’s the encryption. I’m no longer purchasing from the Marketplace. Wish I discovered this sooner.

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I realise that it’s not to do with what you researched, I simply wanted to bring it up as it really should use more than 3 threads to load mods.

There is a similar thread about long Load Times:

I commented there and I do have a lot of Marketplace add-ons and on an I9-11900, 64GB RAM, RTX 2060 Super 8GB VRAM, Samsung 980 Pro 2TB NVMe it takes me a minimum of 9 minutes to bring up the sim. Sometimes 10-12 minutes and I think it depends on internet and Microsoft server saturation.

I agree with @CdrMaverick assessment. there is lot of time is spent checking DRM or something for every single item that has been purchased through the Marketplace.

I stared at the Task Manager for the full 9 minutes or more that it take the sim to come up and noticed that about 80-85% of the time, the CPU, GPU and Disk are almost idle and hardly used. During that 80-85% of the time the only activity I see is in the Ethernet adapter which is what connects you to the Internet and Microsoft.

I believe that they are doing a back and forth one item at a time. I think they should have the PC, at startup, create a list of owned items and send the file to Microsoft for validation, or Microsoft sent the file of what they think you own and let the PC do the validation locally instead of all this back and forth.

I have decided to not make anymore Marketplace purchases. And I wish I could transfer my purchases to the original distributor and avoid these extremely long load times. It’s really frustrating to have to wait so long.

I have 520 bundles/packages in the sim. When you look at list mode it shows, which breaks down packages, It show 718 items. Out of that I have only about 12 items in my community folder. The rest are from the Marketplace.

Hopefully Microsoft/Asobo looks into this and puts a fix in pretty soon.

Out of frustration, I decided to delete my entire Reno pack. I own the Mega or whatever they call it pack. The Reno Pack and all the airplane packages, and after it deleted about 18GB of space, it did not improve my load time. I guess it still does a back and forth with those entries and shows them as Not Installed.

Hopefully this problem gets addressed soon.

I originally came from XBox. The only choice we had on XBox was to purchase from the store. I have over $4000 in store addons.

With all the problems of testing on XBox and broken addons (The mods can only be tested on an emulator, and often times addons “pass” testing before being released, and then break when actually running on an XBox), I decided to go with PC.

All in all, my time in sim with PC now is flawless. I absolutely love it. BUT… yes, I see significant increases in times with adding my addons. What is worse, after you add about 200, it starts breaking things. I will get occasional CTD’s while loading addons from content manager. Once you get to about 400, well every single add or delete in content manager will result in a CTD. And the sim takes forever to start up.

I’ve reinstalled the sim 5 times so far in just the last 4 weeks I have had my laptop. If I have 400 addons in Community, I have no issues starting up the sim, or doing maintenance in Content Manager.

Eventually when crashing all the time, the sim starts getting confused. For example, it can say that the Deluxe edition is fully installed. But it can also then show one of the airports in the Deluxe edition as available to download. So in other words, the sim thinks it is installed but not installed.

As much as I love the sim, I might just go ahead and repurchase the addons I really want from outside the sim, and only use the ingame store for World Updates, Famous Flyers, Local Legends, and Carenado planes (basically things you can only get from the ingame store).

As for the load times, I believe it is a combination of having to unencrypt, then it probably looks to see if there is a more up to date version of each mod. Because if you go into Content Manager as soon as you start, it knows ahead of time how many updates you have. I’m thinking that it is periodically during a session also checking the store too, because Thursday nights, as they update the store, my updates available keeps increasing. If I choose to have 400 mods installed, I don’t want the sim every few minutes checking for updates on those 400. That has to be slowing down the sim itself, even if only slightly.

$4000 is a lot to turn your back on, but I want as flaw free a session as possible, and so far, the only issue I have on PC is the load times, and the update processes for content in the Official folder.

I have only been buying stuff outside of the Marketplace due to the slow load times of stuff purchased from the Marketplace.

I show 563 installed items, a few of those are world updates and deluxe and premium updates. SO I have about 550 purchases.

It’s take me close to 10 minutes to startup the sim and this is on a system with an I9-11900 GPU, 128GB RAM and an NVIDIA 3080ti GPU.

A while back out of frustration I deleted the entire Reno Collections including all the add-on airplanes and the load times didn’t change one bit.

I think once you purchase something it knows and it will go through some checks and still take the same amount of time even if you have deleted them.

So, not only do you have to walk away from all your purchases, you also have to purchase the sim again with another account for it to not know you own all those add-ons.

This problem has been escalated to Microsoft and Asobo and they are aware of it.

I do know for a fact that they are aware, however I do not know when or how they plan to fix this problem.

But like I said, I have stopped making purchases from the Marketplace. Today I was tempted and almost bought something, but it a good thing that there is a problem with the addon and you have to modify Content.xml in order for navigation to work properly and I really don’t want one more thing to do with updates.

I would rather purchase stuff from the Marketplace, but I just can’t handle the sim taking over 10 minutes to load.

Hopefully they come up with a fix in the next Sim Update.