On October 8, 1990, Microsoft put a tick in global productivity when it was released Minesweeper as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows. It was aimed at those who used Windows 3.0. For the past 30 years Minesweeper has appreciated millions with its simple, yet deep, strategic game. That̵7;s why people love it.
The secret? Strategic, addictive game
Minesweeper is a logical puzzle game located in a grid field. The goal is to clear (reveal) every square in the network without accidentally clicking on a mine – and to do so as quickly as possible. When you reveal squares, clues are displayed in the form of numbers that represent the number of mines in the eight adjacent squares around them.
Along the way you can mark where you think mines are with a flag with just a right click of the mouse. Be careful though! If you click on a single mine by mistake, the game is over.
Even if you hit a mine, it’s hard to give up once you understand the game’s basic numerical strategy. Minesweeper makes you feel smart, but the tension in danger is palpable. It’s a bit like Sudoku with explosions. So you try again and if you succeed you may want to shave a few seconds off your score.
You’re in now Minesweeper addictive grip.
The origin of Minesweeper
Microsoft Minesweeper was originally called Mina, and was created by Microsoft employees, Robert Donner and Curt Johnson. Donner based his game on Johnson’s previous Olympics / 2 games, and both were originally distributed only among friends.
Shortly after the development of Windows 3.0, Microsoft’s product manager, Bruce Ryan, decided to put together a package of games that would encourage people with home computers to buy Windows. Ryan made a call among Microsoft employees, and Robert Donner submitted Mina. After a few minor changes to the graphics, it was renamed Minesweeper was born.
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As we mentioned above, Minesweeper debuted commercially in 1990 as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows. At that time, Windows 3.0 was not really 5 months old. The package contained six games (Cruel, Golf, Minesweeper, Pagged, Taipei, Tetris, TicTactics) and the screen saver IdleWild.
Minesweeper became the most popular in Microsoft’s offices (and in a collection that included Tetris, it’s quite an achievement). 1994, Washington Post reported that Bill Gates was once so addicted to Minesweeper, he removed it from his computer, but then snuck into a colleague’s office to play it.
That popularity may be why Microsoft decided to include Minesweeper with Windows 3.1 when it was shipped in 1992 (kicks out the brutally difficult Reversi, in the process).
Once Minesweeper became a pack-in game for Windows, millions of people around the world played it and it became a household name. And it got even bigger than that! Microsoft is included Minesweeper with all versions of Windows from 1992-2009 (Windows 3.1 to Windows 7). So it is possible that hundreds of millions of people have played Minesweeper over the last three decades.
It’s deeper than it looks
Someone who even cheats Minesweeper know that it is not as easy to get in as Solitaire. This is because despite its simple appearance, it is a very deep strategy game – so much so that people play it competitively in tournaments around the world.
Almost everyone with a basic grasp of Minesweeper strategy can clear a difficult field, with enough time (and a little luck). The biggest competition challenge for Minesweeper clears a difficult minefield in as short a time as possible.
In the pursuit of the ultimate Minesweeper points (a low time on a difficult minefield), hardcore players have identified sets of patterns that, when stored in memory, can significantly reduce your times.
Advanced players have also identified techniques, such as 1.5 clicks, that allow players to uncover mines faster. Some even completely refrain from using flags to save time when filling in a field.
If you’re just a casual person Minesweeper but do not let these advanced techniques discourage you from playing the game at a leisurely pace – you can still have fun by taking your time.
Below are some fun facts and tips about this popular game:
- To cheat in the Windows 3.x version, type “xyzzy”, press Shift + Enter and then press Enter again. A small dot appears in the corner of the screen that turns black when you hold the mouse over a square with a mine.
- The Italian version of Windows 2000 included a version of Minesweeper called Flowering meadow (“Flower field”). It contained flowers instead of mines due to pressure from an organization called The International Campaign to Ban Winmine.
- Windows Vista version of Minesweeper included the option to use flowers instead of mines in some regions, with the game as the default flowers in others.
- According to Guinness World Records, the fastest combined time to complete all three difficulties in Minesweeper is 38.65 seconds, set by Kamil Murański from Poland 2014.
How to play Minesweeper Today
Starting with Windows 8, Minesweeper (and Solitaire) became optional applications available in the Microsoft Store. The game is still available on Windows 10, but it is now full of distracting ads in the game. However, it includes Xbox Live connectivity features and a remarkable “Adventure” variant, located in a series of caves with gold, monsters and arrows.
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If you prefer to play a classic free version of Minesweeper, there are several available online. A popular version among competitive players is Minesweeper X. It includes both the classic Windows 3.x look and new skins that change the look of the game. It can also keep detailed statistics and export them to a spreadsheet if you are a serious player.
If you want to try the original Windows 3.x version of Minesweeper, you can run an emulated version directly in your browser, thanks to the internet archive. We also host an ad-free web-based version of Minesweeper (and Solitaire too).
No matter which version you play, you will surely be connected once you understand the basics. Happy Birthday, Minesweeper!