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Microsoft Solitaire, Minesweeper, And FreeCell Created To Teach Computer Skills

Hoards of procrastinators harboring Solitaire, Minesweeper, Hearts and FreeCell addictions may be surprised to learn that software engineers created the games to have deeper purposes than simply causing Microsoft users to repeatedly utter “just one more round.” Each of these games reportedly has secret educational agendas.

Windows 3.0 was the first to come with a new, exciting game – a digital version of Solitaire, Mental Floss reported. Although the simple card game has existed since the 1700s, computer users were impressed to learn that they no longer needed a physical deck to play the game. The addictive game went deeper, however, and was actually designed to sneakily teach users to be comfortable dragging and dropping with a mouse.

It apparently worked, as countless individuals got hooked on the classic reboot.

Software engineers wanted to make sure that Windows users would continue to progress towards computer literacy, so they created Minesweeper in 1992. Based on a popular 1960s game called “Cube,” the numbers-based logic game came with Windows 3.1 and taught users to fine tune their mouse skills, concentrating on left and right clicking.

When the first network-ready Windows system, Windows for Workgroups 3.1, came out in 1992, engineers wanted to show people how they could communicate on a local network and entice them to do so, and that is why they created the multi-user game Hearts.

Windows had similar intentions when they created FreeCell, according to IBN Live. The Microsoft Entertainment Pack Volume 2 package allowed 32-bit applications to run on 16-bit Windows 3.1. It also conveniently came with the solitaire-based game FreeCell, which required the data processing subsystem that ran Win32 to work properly. In other words, Microsoft was able to test that its subsystem was working correctly by FreeCell’s performance.

Since the functional games accidentally turned out to be universally loved, Microsoft had a tough time getting rid of them without massive negative feedback, but in 2012, Windows 8 finally did away with having the classic games in the startup menu.

However, this year’s Windows 10 brought back Solitaire, and Mental Floss suggests that Windows creators are not done teaching on the sly – they may be enticing users to visit the app store, where they can download the rest of the old games.

Sources: Mental Floss, IBN Live
Photo Credit: Jonathan Lin/Flickr, Abel Cheung/Flickr


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