Twenty-nine years after Microsoft began bundling Microsoft Solitaire with the Windows operating system, the game that was the first Windows PC game many people from my generation ever played has now been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. Microsoft’s Paul Jensen, studio manager for Microsoft Casual Games, announced the honor in a blog post:
Today, The Strong Museum of Play announced the 2019 class of World Video Game Hall of Fame, and we’re excited to share that Microsoft Solitaire is one of the inductees. For many people, Solitaire was their introduction to computer games. Since Windows 3.0 came out in 1990, Solitaire has been a featured program on every version of Windows. Over the past 29 years, Microsoft Solitaire has been providing great entertainment to more than 500 million players in every corner of the world, making it a natural fit for the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
What’s really interesting about Microsoft’s Solitaire was that the game (and its amazing animated cards) wasn’t just a throwaway inclusion into Windows. Jensen says Microsoft specifically included the game in Windows 3.0 in order to help users learn how to use a mouse—something many users had never done before.
Since its introduction in 1990, Microsoft Solitaire has been distributed on over a billion computers. Microsoft included the game in every version of Windows from 3.0 to Windows 8.1, when it was removed from the base level operating system. But after online backlash against its removal, Microsoft returned Solitaire to Windows 10. The classic Microsoft game can now also be played on iOS and Android devices—and it can even be argued that Microsoft Solitaire paved the way for today’s casual gaming market, says Jeremy Saucier, assistant vice president for electronic games and interpretation at Microsoft:
The game proved that sometimes analog games can be even more popular in the digital world and demonstrated that a market existed for games that appeal to people of all types. In many ways, it helped pave the way for the growth of the casual gaming market that remains so popular today.