The Power Of Software

In 1990, millions of office workers began playing a mind-numbing card game on their personal computers. Packaged with a hot-selling new version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows program, Solitaire proved so distracting that Boeing Co. and other companies removed it from all their PCs. "It sure blew peoples' productivity," admits Wes Cherry, the Microsoft programmer who developed it. But then a funny thing happened: When useful applications for Windows arrived, workers had already mastered clicking and dragging on-screen objects--skills honed with Solitaire. Recently, the game won an industry award for its "foresight" in getting people to use mouse pointing devices.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.