Do you remember when you learned how to use a mouse in Windows for the first time? Maybe you remember that first time you learned how to drag a file, double click and right click your way to computing success? No we didn’t think you would, but believe it or not, the sneaky guys over at Microsoft were training you up on how to use computers from the first time you saw that Windows logo.
Introducing Windows to the masses
Until the launch of Windows back in the early nineties, using a computer was not user friendly. Much work was carried out in the Microsoft Disk Operating System, lovingly known as MS-DOS. This required the user to type commands into MS-DOS prompt, which would instruct the computer to load programs or browse folders. It was pretty hard to navigate unless you knew what you were doing.
While MS-DOS was highly functional, only the skilled and experienced computer users could control it. Microsoft spotted a gap in the market, building a program to act as a medium between the user and MS-DOS; that medium is known as Windows.
Windows is a graphic user interface (GUI) which makes operating a computer much more intuitive and less intimidating to new users. When you double click an icon, such as Word, it runs a command similar to that which would have launched programs in MS-DOS; without the manual entry. While the emergence of Windows certainly heralded the beginning of a widespread increase in computer usage, there were still certain aspects which the average computer user would find difficult to comprehend.
Microsoft got some of its smartest and sneakiest to design methods of teaching users the new skills they would need to operate Windows without them even knowing they were being trained.
You’ve almost certainly played this ridiculous game while wondering what is the point of it all. While it may have spawned the epic Minesweeper: The Movie trailer, the true nature of the point and click game was to introduce you to right clicking. While you would be forgiven for thinking all those right clicks to gain a mine marking flag was world saving, it wasn’t. It was instead an ingenious way for Microsoft to teach you valuable life skills.
There isn’t a soul alive that finds solitaire boring. For that simple reason, if you’re ever bored and have a deck of cards or a computer, you’re likely to turn to this age old game. Which is why Microsoft included it with Windows 3.0 in 1990; right?
Sorry, but Solitaire was another training trap. With the introduction of a GUI control for Windows, the Microsoft team wanted to ensure you could double click, single click and drag files or folders around by luring you into a boredom beating game that required all these skills.
Continuing the trend of ulterior motives shaping Windows games, Hearts wasn’t simply packaged with the operating system for the sake of it. Hearts was included with Windows 3.1, the first network ready version of the system. Sure enough, hearts was included to give people a practical use for network connections.
Rewarding users with connected interactive games was a genius stroke by Microsoft to encourage adoption amongst early users. Well played Bill, well played indeed.
You can play these golden oldies online now using the following links. It’s ok, we know you’ll play Minesweeper first.