Microsoft is bringing the casual games Minesweeper and Solitaire to Teams to spruce up virtual meetings

Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft Corp. , speaking during the Meta Connect virtual event in New York on October 11, 2022.

Michael Nagel | bloomberg | Getty Images

Next time you’re bored with a Microsoft Teams call, try joining your mates in a game of Minesweeper.

Microsoft On Wednesday, it added a bunch of casual games to its Teams chat and calling service as the company tries to get people to spend more time on the app. Solitaire will also be available, along with a new game called IceBreakers created by Microsoft to help team members get to know each other.

Microsoft is trying to portray Teams as a major work destination, expanding on a product that exploded during the pandemic, when employees had to congregate and collaborate virtually. Teams is now available on the most popular devices, and among desktop software developers Adobe And the succulents Develop Teams integrations.

By adding games, Microsoft is trying to sprinkle some fun into the equation and possibly strengthen bonds at work. Employees can meet remotely to win Minesweeper, a clickable tile puzzle game that includes some virtual mines to avoid. People can also just watch entertainment.

“An enhanced spectator mode allows everyone, whether or not they’re actively playing that round, to follow the action and interact with the players on screen,” Microsoft vice president Nicole Herskowitz wrote in a blog post. She likened it to the experience of watching “Jeopardy”.

Games are a familiar product for Microsoft. In addition to the entire Xbox franchise, which launched in 2001, the company has a bunch of ways to play casual games. The classic Klondike game, for example, is part of the Microsoft Solitaire Collection app for Windows.

In January, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, which publishes first-person shooters in the Call of Duty franchise, for approximately $69 billion. The deal must first remove regulatory hurdles.

Minesweeper and Solitaire first appeared with Microsoft in 1990. Solitaire, a variation of the 19th century card game, was a utility designed to help people get comfortable with Windows and learn to use a mouse, but ended It’s about to become the most popular game on the operating system, The Washington Post reported in 1994. The paper said Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder and first CEO, had such a serious addiction to Minesweeper that he removed the game from his computer. with it.

The big play right now for Microsoft is getting executives to renew and expand their Office 365 subscriptions, an important package the company is currently rebranding as Microsoft 365. Office accounted for 23% of Microsoft’s total revenue in the third quarter.

Microsoft even positions games as a potential way to improve cognitive development. In an email to CNBC, a Microsoft spokesperson cited a study of more than 2,000 children indicating that those who played video games experienced gains in working memory compared to those who did not play.

As part of its new release, Microsoft is also bringing a mobile compatible game called Wordament to Teams. The Boggle-like game came about in 2011 after Microsoft asked employees to create Windows Phone apps in their spare time, prompting two employees to come up with the game as something to play with their wives. The game, which challenges players to spot words among a grid of letters, has hit 1 million downloads on Android.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the idea of ​​IceBreakers was particularly popular.

“As we tested different game ideas across Microsoft, this was one of the most requested game genres, and we listened to feedback to create this game,” the spokesperson wrote in the email.

Minesweeper, Solitaire, Wordament, and IceBreakers are in the Games for Work for Teams app, now available for Microsoft Enterprise and Education customers. Administrators must enable access to apps in Teams for users to play games. Herskowitz wrote that the company will pull more games from partners into Teams in 2023.

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