Sophos has announced that its Application Control software has been extended to give businesses the ability to control and block Windows computer games, including Solitaire, Minesweeper and FreeCell – some of the most popular games in the world.

According to Sophos, the negative impact on company productivity caused by the games has meant that many organisations have shown significant interest in wanting to control their installation and use on company computers.

A recent Sophos poll survey of more than 450 system administrators reflected the security and efficiency concerns surrounding the use of computer games – 90.4% of respondents wanted the ability to block games, with 62% indicating this was essential.  Even some games developers have recognised the impact their creations can have on productivity in the workplace.

"When I wrote Solitaire for Microsoft, I unleashed a monster of unproductivity onto the world," Wes Cherry, author of Microsoft Windows Solitaire, told Sophos.  "I bet there are millions of bosses out there who hate me.  If I had a penny for every hour that has been wasted playing Solitaire in the office, I could hire Bill Gates as my golf caddie."

Sophos Application Control has proven extremely popular with system administrators since its launch in September 2006, and receives regular updates in order to meet concerns resulting from uncontrolled enterprise use of applications.

Slotting in seamlessly with Sophos Anti-Virus and requiring no roll-out of new software, Sophos Application Control gives businesses the ability to selectively block games, VoIP, peer-to-peer (P2P), Instant Messaging (IM) and distributed computing applications.  It is available free-of-charge to all Sophos Anti-Virus 6.0 users.

"While playing the installed Windows games is fine on occasion, it becomes a problem when employees are doing it at their company's expense," says Brett Myroff, CEO of master Sophos distributor, NetXactics.  "It’s likely that more hours have been spent playing these games, which have been available on Windows for years, in the office than any other game."

The Windows games currently blocked by Sophos Application Control are: Solitaire; Hearts; Spider Solitaire; FreeCell; MineSweeper; 3D Pinball; Internet Backgammon; Internet Checkers; Internet Hearts; Internet Reversi; and Internet Spades.

The ability to block Windows games bolsters Sophos's previous Application Control offering that allows system administrators to block popular games from 15 major games publishers, including Eidos Interactive, SEGA and Electronic Arts.