Generations have played Solitaire, Minesweeper and other games on their Microsoft Windows system without knowing why.
Solitaire, Minesweeper, Hearts and FreeCell might not mean much to most millennials, but to the generations before, they were our most popular video games and activity we had – especially if you had a computer running on Microsoft Windows.
Hour after hour, day after day, we clicked away trying to beat the tricky games, without ever stopping to think why Microsoft would take the time to create these simple yet addictive time-wasters and give them to us for free.
The truth behind them is as bizarre as it is genius, because it was through them Microsoft engineered us to use their Windows operating system with ease and comfort, as well as test their product.
In 1990 the company added Microsoft Solitaire to Windows 3.0, and people went crazy over the fact that they didn’t need a physical deck to play cards anymore. But what seemed like a display of futurism was in fact a crash course in Mouse mobility.
Solitaire intended to train generations to use the mouse passively, making it natural behavior. This helped them transform the Mouse into a mechanical/electronical extension of your hand, letting you use it without ever thinking about what you’re doing.
When Windows 3.1 came out in 1992, it feature a new free game that was just too captivating to stop playing: Minesweeper.
Although many of us still don’t understand the game, we spent hours and hours clicking on the small grey tiles, hoping we don’t unveil a mine. Just as Solitaire, it had a bizarre purpose too.
After learning how to drag and drop, people had to master the left and right click with matching ease and Minesweeper was our Yoda.
Clearly these games outlived their purpose, but their popularity pushed Microsoft to keep them in every version of Windows until Windows 8 in 2012. Despite the availability of more advanced and thrilling games, fans weren’t happy and wanted them back.
The games were finally brought back with Windows 10, but you’ll have pay a small fee to play without annoying ads.