Solitaire – Everyone’s Favorite Computer Game Recently Turned 30


Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Smartphones have turned everyone into a gamer. They practically created the “casual gaming” market by allowing titles like Flappy Bird, Kitten Squad, Candy Crush, and Angry Birds to reach the masses.

But before smartphones and before most of us had an internet connection there was another “casual” game that almost everyone played at least once: Microsoft Solitaire. This simple card game turned 30 recently. 

It hasn’t changed much over the last three decades, apart from a couple of small makeovers that were made in some of the more recent versions of Windows. Even with a new skin, Microsoft Solitaire is basically the same game underneath. 

And having been installed on every copy of Microsoft’s computer operating system since Windows 3.0, it’s something that has been nearly impossible to avoid. From here in New Orleans, all the way to New South Wales, Australia, people have played Solitaire at home, college, and at work.  

Its simplicity is one of the biggest reasons for its success. After all, you can learn to play solitaire in a matter of minutes and play it over and over again, with each new game still being a challenge.  

 Humble Beginnings

Microsoft never intended Solitaire to be the worldwide phenomenon that it turned into; in fact, they gave the responsibility for coding the original version to an intern at the company.  

This was because the plan for the game wasn’t to become the all-conquering, most-played computer game of all time – it was simply designed to help users learn the features of the new Windows 3.0 operating system.  

At the time, most computers used a command-line interface, requiring users to type text commands to perform functions. The idea of a mouse, cursor, and graphical icons were a novel feature back then. So to help Windows users become familiar with clicking and dragging, Solitaire was created.  

Big Numbers and Big Influence

Yet, for these humble and noble intentions, Microsoft Solitaire became the most played game of all time. It has shipped with more than a million computers and copies of Windows over its 30-year lifespan and, despite competition from the global video game industry that’s worth more than $150 billion, it continues to be enjoyed by more than 35 million users each day.

To help reach that many people, Microsoft Solitaire has been translated into 65 different languages, which is enough to make it accessible to almost everyone on planet Earth. 

 To keep up with the demand for Solitaire, Microsoft has released versions of the game for both Android and iOS, as well as created a web version that can be played from inside your browser

 Not only that, but Solitaire helped to inspire the modern iGaming industry by showing that there was a huge demand for playing card games on a computer. Today, people regularly log in to online poker platforms to take part in tournaments and other major online events. The massive demand for such games can be seen from the iGaming industry’s size, which surpassed $60 billion in 2020. 

 In recognition of this success and influence, Microsoft Solitaire was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2019. This put it alongside other video game legends like The Legend of Zelda, Doom, Pong, John Madden Football, Tetris and Super Mario Bros. 


You can’t create a game that reaches more than one billion people and is played by 35 million of them each day without hitting a couple of bumps in the road. One of these saw a New York man get fired from his job working for the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg. 

 Like many people around the world have done, the man had played a game of Solitaire on his computer during his break at work. However, he’d forgotten to close it and continued his work in the office.

 The mayor happened to be in the office that day and when he saw the card game open on the man’s computer, he was relieved of his duties. 

 Ironically, the intern that had written the original version of the game for Windows 3.0 had created a “boss mode” that could be used to hide the game if your boss was nearby. Except, Microsoft bosses felt it wouldn’t be appreciated by their enterprise customers, so it was removed before the game was released. 

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