Microsoft Solitaire

Windows Solitaire has played an essential role in the history of Solitaire. It is the basis of the current popularity and status of Klondike which is still one of the most played games in the world.

Windows Solitaire is a product of Microsoft and was first included as part of Windows 3.0. Windows 3.0, the third edition of Microsoft Windows, was released in 1990.

Microsoft Solitaire vs. Klondike

The game Microsoft initially launched was named Microsoft Solitaire. However, the “official” name of the game is now Klondike (Solitaire). The fact that Microsoft originally called the game Microsoft Solitaire created backlash and confusion, essentially forcing Microsoft to restore the original name to Klondike.

Short History of Windows Microsoft Solitaire

The Microsoft employee Wes Cherry originally wrote Windows Solitaire. He wrote the game for windows 2.1 in his own time while he was an intern at Microsoft in the summer of 1988. He was playing a similar game on the Mac, but he wanted to have a version for himself running on Windows.

At that time, Microsoft had an internal company called Bogus software. In this company, programmers were busy trying to hack Windows to learn about the security and the program interface. When Wes Cherry had his game ready, he uploaded the game without further intentions to the server.

A project manager noticed the game, and with the permission of Cherry, the game was included in Microsoft Windows 3.0

The story goes that the game was implemented to help users get familiar with the Windows user interface and the use of a mouse. But in later interviews, several people involved admitted that the game was added purely for entertainment.

Although Wes Cherry was the game’s programmer, Susan Kare deserves credit since she was responsible for all the designs up to Windows Solitaire XP.

Original Windows Solitaire Features are Still Hot Today

Numerous features, all part of the 1990 initial game design, are still popular today. These features can be found in Windows Solitaire and many other Solitaire games. Some of these features include changing the design on the back of a player’s card deck, choosing between drawing one and drawing three, and switching between Vegas Score and Standard Scoring. In combination with standard scoring, there is the possibility to enable a timer to gain additional points if you finish a game. There remains the option to switch off the scoring completely. Also, a cheat was added, allowing you to switch to draw one while playing the draw 3 version.

Windows Solitaire Scoring and Vegas Score

Microsoft Windows Solitaire was one of the first Solitaires equipped with a scoring method. In addition to a standard scoring, there was also the option to choose the Vegas Mode scoring type.

While Microsoft Solitaire is primarily responsible for the current and ongoing success of (online) Solitaire, neither Microsoft nor Wes Cherry are the inventors of (Klondike) Solitaire with Vegas Score.
The name Vegas Score is most likely derived from the name Las Vegas Solitaire, as it was described in many computer books in the early 1980s. This means that the Vegas scoring was already an established scoring method before 1988 when Wes Cherry programmed the game over the summer and placed it on the server at Microsoft.

Later versions of Microsoft Windows Solitaire

Microsoft Solitaire Windows computer
Source: Museum of Play – Microsoft Solitaire 3.0 1990

From the beginning, Windows Solitaire was a massive success. At that time, there were few video games, and since Windows 3.0 was installed on billions of personal computers, it instantly became the most played game worldwide.

Windows Solitaire was for many years one of the most used applications of the complete Windows program and was included in all future versions of Microsoft windows.

  • Windows Solitaire 2000
  • Windows Solitaire XP
  • Windows Solitaire 7
  • Windows Solitaire 8
  • Windows Solitaire 10

From Windows 8 through Windows 10, the game is included in the Microsoft Solitaire Collection and has expanded with four variants of Solitaire: Freecell, Spider, Pyramid, and TriPeaks. The Microsoft Solitaire collection is available in the AppStore and Google Playstore.

Microsoft Solitaire Collection: The Best Solitaire Card Games

Microsoft Solitaire Collection is a series of Solitaire games developed by SGI (formerly Arkadium) and commissioned by the Microsoft Casual games department of Microsoft Studios.
The Microsoft Solitaire Collection features several game modes of Solitaire card games. The five most popular and best Solitaire card games are included; Klondike Solitaire( including Vegas scoring system), Spider Solitaire, Freecell Solitaire, Pyramid Solitaire, and Tripeaks Solitaire.

To enjoy the ad-free game experience of the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, you can create a Microsoft account that gives you the following advantages:

  • You can play all Solitaire card games for free.
  • Save all your combo points and player stats on your account.
  • You don’t need Solitaire skills to join simple rules and straightforward gameplay.
  • Daily new solvable card challenges (daily challenges events) where you can earn Solitaire badges.
  • Join millions of gamers worldwide, complete challenges, and choose from many Solitaire boards with different backgrounds.
  • Compete in daily challenges and events to earn achievements.
  • Play Solitaire on multiple devices like your iPhone, Xbox, or PC.

The 2019 Induction into the World Video Game Hall of Fame of Microsoft Solitaire

In 2019 (May 2nd), Microsoft Windows was inducted into the World Video Hall of Fame at The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y. In the nomination, the Museum stated that Microsoft Solitaire Windows is an example of a game that meets all the criteria of the World Video Game Hall of Fame; longevity, Influence, geographical reach, and status.

The game was nominated with 11 other games in the Class 2019 of the World Video Hall of Fame. Other familiar games nominated were Candy Crush Saga, Half-Life, Mortal Kombat, NBA 2k, and Super Mario Kart.

Where the organization got a lot of negative feedback for the nomination of Candy Crush, the opposite was the case with Solitaire.

Microsoft Solitaire printscreen 1990 version 3.0
Microsoft Solitaire Printscreen – Original game 1990

“Microsoft Windows Solitaire earned a surprisingly large amount of support from the public after our announcement. Indeed it received the highest number of votes in the Player’s Choice balloting which is open to the public; in fact, it earned more votes than all the other games combined! – World Video Game Hall of Fame”

The Unparalleled Success of Windows Solitaire

In 2020 Windows Solitaire celebrated its 30th anniversary with a big Solitaire tournament. They also announced that after 30 years, there are still 35 million unique players from all over the world playing the Microsoft Solitaire App every month.

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 a vast market for games that appealed 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.