Gaming

The real reason Microsoft invented the Minesweeper & Solitaire games

Let's face it, Snake was the real reason that Nokias got so popular. Mario sold the Nintendo and Sonic the Sega. Games have always got people hooked on their parent machines so, naturally, we always assumed that the classic quartet of Microsoft games were there to draw people into Bill Gates' world-dominating OS.

But it's not so.

An article in Mental Floss reveals that Microsoft was actually doing something far more clever than simply providing maddeningly addictive games for bored office workers when it installed Minesweeper, Solitaire, FreeCell and Hearts onto successive editions of Windows: it was teaching people crucial new physical computing functions.

Solitaire was designed to get users used to the idea of 'drag and drop'.

Minesweeper was there to teach users about the left and right mouse buttons, as well as generally improving fine motor function and precise mouse movement.

Hearts, introduced on 1992's Windows for Workgroups 3.1 - the first version built for networks - was there to get people introduced in networking: you could communicate with other Hearts clients on a LAN.

Finally, FreeCell was actually there to test whether a new 'thunking layer' - a patch to enable 32-bit applications to run on a 16-bit Windows 3.1 system - was correctly installed. If it was, you could you play the game; if not, it wouldn't load.

Of course, all four tests had the pleasing side effect of doing exactly what was described above and hooking people into the Operating System. Would you try moving to another one? Not if it meant you couldn't play Minesweeper.

In fact, the games were so successful that every time Microsoft tried to remove them, they were met with anguished howls of protest from testers of the new OS. The new Windows 10 is the first iteration that doesn't come with them preinstalled but, fear not, you can still download them from the Windows Store.

And in the meantime you can:

PLAY MINESWEEPER ONLINE HERE

PLAY SOLITAIRE ONLINE HERE

PLAY HEARTS ONLINE HERE

PLAY FREECELL ONLINE HERE