The True Purpose of Solitaire and Minesweeper Revealed

Published August 22, 2015 by Elana K

The True Purpose of Solitaire and Minesweeper Revealed

Microsoft reveals its true goal behind the creation of beloved games Solitaire, Minesweeper, Hearts and FreeCell.

If you thought that the goal of the popular computer games Solitaire, Minesweeper, Hearts and FreeCell was to help office employees pass the time in a fun way, think again. According to a recent article by Mental Floss, Microsoft's true goal in creating these games was to help people learn how to use their computers. 


Let’s take Solitaire, added to Windows 3.0 in 1990. While Solitaire is undoubtedly fun, the real reason behind its creation was to teach mouse-fluency. It may sound funny now, but when computers were in their infancy, there was no such thing as a mouse. A mouse, in fact, is a Microsoft creation, and so it makes sense that Microsoft would want to encourage people to learn how to use it.


Let’s look at another game: Minesweeper. Many people simply think of it as a game that is impossible to win (unless you have mastered its secrets), but in reality, this was a game created by Microsoft to help people get used to left and right clicking on the mouse, as well as fostering precision in mouse movement.


In the Microsoft game Hearts, players can communicate with other Hearts players on a local network. So when it was launched, it was not only was it a fun pastime, but it was also a way of showcasing Microsoft’s impressive networking capabilities.


FreeCell, another game, started out in Windows 3.1 as part of a bundle package with Win32’s 32-bit applications. The goal? To test the 32-bit thunking layer (a data processing subsystem), which was part of Win32s. If the thunking layer was improperly installed, FreeCell wouldn't run. Brilliant, right? 

And so, what started out as stealthy methods of testing and promoting Microsoft’s software, turned into a computer-game craze that paved the way for future game crazes, notably, online casinos. These Microsoft games, which today we consider basic, allowed people to cultivate the skills used in online gaming, an industry that is currently worth billions and billions of dollars.


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