Microsoft has noted a huge increase in demand for its cloud and gaming services as more people are forced to stay at home because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In a Microsoft Azure blog post over the weekend, the company explained that demand had surged for Microsoft Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop, and Power BI in particular.
This was particularly noticeable in Italy, where the the spread of the virus has been devastating.
“We have seen a 775 percent increase in Teams’ calling and meeting monthly users in a one month period in Italy, where social distancing or shelter in place orders have been enforced” the company noted.
Teams usage grew to over 44 million active users from 32 million in a week.
“Those users generated over 900 million meeting and calling minutes on Teams daily in a single week,” Microsoft said.
Windows Virtual Desktop usage increased more than 300%, while government use of public Power BI for sharing COVID-19 dashboards with citizens has climbed 42% in a week.
Xbox Live record numbers
This growth also included increased demand for Microsoft’s gaming services.
In addition to using the Internet for working at home, many have resorted to gaming for entertainment while staying in lockdown or practising social distancing.
In an Xbox Support notification, Microsoft said that it was seeing record numbers on Xbox Live, as well as its subscription service Xbox Game Pass and game streaming platform Mixer.
As a result, it has temporarily disabled the ability to upload custom gamerpics, club pics, and club backgrounds.
This means that its moderators won’t be burdened with having to approve user-generated content at a time when the demand has spiked.
Game updates to be shifted
To further reduce the impact that gaming services could have on remote working capability, Microsoft has taken steps to alleviate strain on its network infrastructure during typical work hours.
Microsoft said it was working with game publishers to deliver “higher-bandwidth activities” such as game updates in off-peak hours.
According to a report from the New York Times, an email from the Xbox team instructed game companies to only roll out updates in a four-hour overnight window in North America, and only on Monday to Thursday.
Microsoft said it was actively monitoring performance and usage trends to optimise services for its customers worldwide and to help accommodate new growth and demand.