Microsoft Solitaire Collection: My new iOS app addiction

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm addicted to a Microsoft app. No, it's not one of the Office apps, so don't get worried... It's a game -- the Microsoft Solitaire Collection (free with in-app purchase). 

For those of us who were forced at one time in our lives to use or support Microsoft Windows, solitaire is nothing new. I recall playing it on a Windows 3.1 machine back in the early 1990s, and it has been a venerable time-killer ever since. This marks the first time that Microsoft has brought its solitaire card games to iOS, and the company has done an excellent job with the app.

There are five solitaire games built into the collection: Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid and TriPeaks. Klondike is the old, traditional game that's been around forever, while Pyramid and TriPeaks are relatively new to the Microsoft Solitaire world. Each has a different set of rules and method of play; while you might be an expert in one game, it really takes some effort to win consistently at all five.

Rather than being linked to Apple's Game Center, the Microsoft Solitaire Collection is tied into Xbox Live. Those who aren't Xbox owners are given an opportunity to sign up with the service so that game stats are available on all platforms and for some future capabilities.

Once you get the hang of the games, the Daily Challenges are fun. Each day you'll find one  challenge for each game, rated easy, medium or hard. I can vouch for the fact that even some of the easy challenges are...a challenge! Each time you succeed making a challenge, you win some points that are accumulated during a month. So far in January, I've managed to make it to the "silver" level of total points -- there are bronze, silver, gold and diamond levels that can be achieved during a one-month period.

On the home screen of the game there are "Coming Soon" tags for Star Club and Themes. While Themes are easy to figure out (different card backs and backgrounds for games), I'm not sure what Star Club is. If a Windows or Xbox user out there can let us know in the comments, that would be helpful!

As noted, the game is free. I downloaded the Microsoft Solitaire Collection in mid-December and at that time a Premium upgrade was a freebie for a month. Now the Premium upgrade is either $9.99 per year or $1.99 per month -- it basically gets rid of some very annoying ads. I play the game to kill time, and it's well worth the $9.99 annual subscription.

Microsoft Solitaire Collection is quite fast and stable, the animations aren't overdone, and the background sounds are well done. The only issues I've seen have been fixed -- once the Premium freebie was over with, I tried to upgrade and couldn't for a few days until an update became available. 

If you like playing solitaire as a way of killing time, you're going to love Microsoft Solitaire Collection.