What Was the Real Purpose of Windows Solitaire?


Quick Answer

In 1990, Windows games like Solitaire, Minesweeper, Hearts and Freecell were to designed to teach people to use a computer mouse. What came after (office productivity, anyone?) is another issue entirely.

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What Was the Real Purpose of Windows Solitaire?
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Full Answer

It might seem strange now, but before 1990 and Windows 3.0, it wasn’t common to use a mouse with a computer. Most of the time, users typed commands into a prompt, which launched games or programs that they controlled using a keyboard. But with the rise of personal computing, the mouse would see a lot more action. Microsoft predicted this, and as a way to ease users into the experience, they created two flagship games: Solitaire and Minesweeper.

Their purpose was to help orient people to clicking, dragging, and dropping - things that are now second nature to millions. Based on how many people use computers (and mouse) regularly with ease, it looks like it worked pretty well. Of course, there was one small drawback. Solitaire and other Windows games became an outlet for procrastinators worldwide. Many corporations, like Boeing, began removing the games before giving computers to employees. It became a problem no one could escape from.

But before you feel bad about your own time-wasting skills, consider this: Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, had to delete Minesweeper from his own computer in order to stay focused on his own work.

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