Well, this is fun! A report from The Verge suggests Microsoft is moving ahead with a plan to include casual games into its productivity tool, Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams is essentially Microsoft's Slack competitor, which gives organizations collaborative online tools and chat channels to discuss, share files, and ultimately work together. Microsoft Teams has grown exponentially in recent years, at least in part due to its bundling with Microsoft 365 for Business (a fact Slack isn't too happy about). I would argue that Slack is a better tool overall than Microsoft Teams right now, but perhaps these new features could change my mind.
The report details how Microsoft's Casual Games Studio known for titles like Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Wordament is exploring injecting some fun into Teams. It's an extension of Microsoft's Mesh plans for the so-called "metaverse," which blurs the realms of productivity and play in virtual environments.
Corroborating The Verge, I heard that Microsoft was working on bringing Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Word Games to Microsoft Teams last summer, although it's still unclear whether or not the testing phase would result in a finished product. I also heard that Microsoft is working to bring an updated official version of Minesweeper to Android and iOS as well.
I suspect that Microsoft will be eager to do extensive testing to determine whether or not these features will actually add value to Microsoft Teams. The obvious response here is "well, productivity will drop if everybody is gaming," but I expect Microsoft would publish research alongside the implementation to suggest that team-based activities and friendly competition may actually increase productivity in the long run. Various studies suggest team-building exercises do improve employee well-being and motivation — whether or not that extends to competitive Solitaire remains to be seen, but it's certainly true that anybody and everybody knows how to play.
Perhaps this is what the future of networking looks like. Either way, it stands to reason administrators will have the ability to control access to these sorts of features.
Solitaire alone has over 30 million monthly active users, which technically makes it the second biggest video game franchise Microsoft has, second only to Minecraft.
Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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