Have you ever wondered how Microsoft chose the preinstalled Windows games like Solitaire, Hearts, FreeCell, and Minesweeper? If you thought it might be because these games were easy to program or easy to play you’d be dead wrong. According to Mental Floss, Microsoft created these classic games to teach people computer skills. And everyone needs skills.

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Solitaire was released in 1990 and Microsoft apparently introduced this one-player card game not to waste hours of your time playing, but rather to teach people of the 90s how to use a mouse. See, back then people were used to command lines into “drag and drop aficionados”, but with computers starting to make it into the average house hold, people needed to be converted to using a mouse. Solitaire was the perfect way to get people into “picking up and dragging” items around on a computer screen using a mouse.

Minesweeper was apparently also preinstalled for Windows from 1992 to teach users to right-click and left-click.


Hearts is an interesting one – it was included in the 1992 Windows for Workgroups 3.1. If you may recall, Workgroups 3.1. was the first network capable version for Windows. Because Hearts clients were able to communicate with other Hearts clients on a local network, the game was supposedly created to get people interested in Window’s new networking capabilities.

Finally, we have FreeCell. This game was intended to test a data processing subsystem Windows was using called the 32-bit thunking layer. The idea is that if the thunking layer wasn’t working properly then FreeCell wouldn’t run, making it a kind of software test instead of a game.

So while it might seem like workers have wasted countless production hours playing solitaire and these other video games, they were actually bettering themselves by improving their computer skills. They just didn’t know that. If there’s any truth to this story, Microsoft actually put a lot of thought behind solitaire and these other retro video games in order to essentially train an entire generation how to use a computer.

Did you ever play Solitaire or any of the original Microsoft video games? Drop us a comment below and let us know.

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