Microsoft Solitaire meets all the criteria for the World Video Game Hall of Fame: influence, longevity, geographical reach, and icon-status. And yet it is often overlooked—perhaps because it’s a digital version of a centuries-old game, and because it so common as to seem commonplace.
As Microsoft began looking for a game to include in its release of the Windows 3.0 operating system, it chose a version of the Klondike variation of Solitaire—programmed initially by intern Wes Cherry with a card deck design by Susan Kare. Not only did it give users a program they immediately understood, but is also taught them how to use a new computer device—the mouse. Play is the brain’s favorite way of learning, and what better way to learn how to use a mouse than by clicking on cards!
Artifacts from The Strong
Because Microsoft distributed it on every version of its operating system from 1990 through Windows 8.1 in 2013, and has since made the game a downloadable title, it has likely been installed on more than a billion computers.
Microsoft Solitaire demonstrated that there existed a vast market for games that appeal to people of all types, paving the way for the growth of the casual game market. While it was not a new game, Microsoft Solitaire was tremendously influential and is, perhaps, one of the most widely played games of all time.
Did You Know?
Microsoft Solitaire originally included a special feature that allowed people playing the game at work to pull up a fake spreadsheet meant to fool their boss. Microsoft removed the “Boss Key” feature before its release.