Microsoft Minesweeper

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A component of Microsoft Windows
Minesweeper Icon.png
Minesweeper 7.png
Minesweeper in Windows 7
Other names Minesweeper
Type Computer game
Included with
Also available for Windows 8

Microsoft Minesweeper (formerly Minesweeper) is a minesweeper computer game created by Curt Johnson, originally for OS/2, and ported to Microsoft Windows by Robert Donner, both Microsoft employees at the time. First officially released as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack 1 in 1990, it was included in the standard install of Windows 3.1 in 1992, replacing Reversi from Windows 3.0.[1] Microsoft Minesweeper has been included in all subsequent Windows releases except Windows 8. An updated version included in Windows Vista and Windows 7 was developed by Oberon Games.[2] In Windows 8, Minesweeper is not included by default, although an app version of Microsoft Minesweeper developed by Arkadium is available on Windows Store.

The goal of the game is to uncover all the squares that do not contain mines (with the left mouse button) without being "blown up" by clicking on a square with a mine underneath. The location of the mines is discovered by a process of logic. Clicking on the game board will reveal what is hidden underneath the chosen square or squares (a large number of blank squares may be revealed in one go if they are adjacent to each other). Some squares are blank but some contain numbers (1 to 8), each number being the number of mines adjacent to the uncovered square. To help avoid hitting a mine, the location of a suspected mine can be marked by flagging it with the right mouse button. The game is won once all blank squares have been uncovered without hitting a mine, any remaining mines not identified by flags being automatically flagged by the computer. However, in the event that a game is lost and the player mistakenly flags a safe square, that square will either appear with a red X covering the mine (denoting it as safe), or just a red X (also denoting it as safe).

The game can be reduced into a set of algebraic statements with binary variables which take a value from the pair (mine does not exist, mine exists). The distinctive feature of minesweeper from the board games with algebra of binary variables is the randomness at the initial stage and at some intermediate stages.[clarification needed]


There are three sizes:

  • Beginner: 8 × 8 or 9 × 9 field with 10 mines
  • Intermediate: 16 × 16 field with 40 mines
  • Expert: 30 × 16 field with 99 mines
  • Custom: Any values from 8 × 8 or 9 × 9 to 30 × 24 field, with 10 to 668 mines.

The beginner board size and the minimal board size increased from 8 × 8 to 9 × 9 in Windows 2000 and its derivatives.

The density of mines is the same on the old 8 × 8 beginner field and on the 16 × 16 intermediate field (10/64 = 40/256). The 8 × 8 beginner game is still easier because it has fewer total chances of hitting a mine[clarification needed], and a smaller chance of having a problem that cannot be solved without guessing. The player is also much less likely to make a careless error because the game is shorter and concentration can be more easily sustained.[original research?]

Minesweeper in Windows XP

In 2003, Microsoft added a variation of the original Minesweeper, called Minesweeper Flags in MSN Messenger (from version 6 onwards). This game is played against an opponent, and the objective of this game is to find the mines by actually clicking on the squares where the mines are located, not by clicking the surrounding squares. The person who first uncovers 26 (out of 51) mines wins.

Until Windows XP, the Minesweeper board is generated randomly before the player clicks any squares. If the player happens to click a mine square on their very first click, in most (not all[3]) versions of Minesweeper the mine at this square is removed and a new mine is placed in the upper left corner. If there is already a mine in the upper left corner (or it was the square that the player clicked), a new mine is placed in the first (starting in the upper left corner then proceeding left->right, top->bottom) available empty spot of the board. Once this change is made, the game proceeds as if the initial clicked square was empty.[4] This is done to ensure that the player will not lose on their very first click.

In the Windows Vista version of the game, the first clicked square is always a zero (i.e. is not a mine and has no mines adjacent to it). At this time it is not known if the Vista Minesweeper board is generated before or after the player first clicks a square in a new game. However Windows Vista now has the ability to restart lost games, and save the progress of Windows Games like Minesweeper. Therefore, it is possible to click on a mine in a restarted game, losing the game (with the option to restart again). This makes it possible to solve a lost game on the second try by just using a screenshot of the lost game showing where all the mines are.

In Windows 3.1 and subsequent versions, there was a cheat code whereby typing "xyzzy" and then moving the mouse while holding Shift causes the screen's upper-left pixel to change between white and black as the mouse cursor moves over unmined and mined squares respectively. From Windows 95 onwards, the Explorer shell prevented this from working, but it would still work if another shell is used instead. In the Windows Vista version, the cheat has been dropped.[5]

If the user clicks both mouse buttons or the middle mouse button on a revealed square, and the correct number of mines have been flagged around the square, then the remaining surrounding squares are revealed. This offers no strategic advantage, but serves as a convenience to the player by reducing the time it takes to clear a board and removing the need to consider which squares around a revealed patch can safely be clicked individually. However, if a square is flagged in error and this feature is used, it can set off a mine and end the game. From Windows Vista onwards, the feature can also be accessed by double-clicking the square, and a red X in the clicked square and a sound effect indicate if the square is not surrounded by the correct number of flags.

In editions of Minesweeper that were released in Windows XP, Windows 2000 and earlier, the default color scheme for Minesweeper was a light shade of gray. When Vista was released, the theme underwent a large overhaul of appearance. The user can now select from two main color themes – blue and green – as well as choosing to replace mines with flowers. Flowers behave in the same way as mines, in that they "explode" when clicked. However, in place of the usual series of explosions, a calm melody sounds in the background.[1] The option to display flowers instead of mines was implemented as part of the Windows Vista makeover because the game was considered to be offensive in some parts of the world due to the inclusion of seamines. In Italian language versions of Windows ME, 2000 and XP, Minesweeper was replaced by "Flower Garden" (Prato Fiorito) and shows flowers instead of landmines.[6][7]


Microsoft Minesweeper by Arkadium
Microsoft Minesweeper by Arkadium.jpg
Developer(s) Arkadium
Publisher(s) Microsoft Studios
Distributor(s) Windows Store
Platform(s) Windows Runtime
Release date(s)
  • WW October 26, 2012 (2012-10-26)
Genre(s) Puzzle
Mode(s) Single-player

Minesweeper did not make it to Windows 8, which also discarded numerous other old components. Instead, Microsoft Minesweeper, another minesweeper, developed by Arkadium and published by Microsoft Studios was made available on Windows Store as a free, ad-supported app. It served as the de facto replacement for the previous Windows minesweeper game, and was not bundled as part of the default installation of Windows. Microsoft Minesweeper is a Windows Store app, meaning that it runs on all editions of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 and unlike its predecessor, it runs full screen and requires at least a 1024×768 monitor.[8][9]

The initial release of Microsoft Minesweeper for Windows 8, along with Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Mahjong were supported by 30 second video ads. Beginning with Windows 8.1, the three games were updated to include a Premium Subscription service what would allow users to pay $1.49/month or $9.99/year to be able to play the game without ads.[10]

This change caused some controversy after the subscription service was incorrectly attributed to the launch of Windows 10.[11][12]

Gizmodo characterised the change as a way to "nickel and dime" users, writing that "something which used to come on your PC for free is now corrupted by ad buys."[13] PC Gamer wrote: "The ads in question aren't small banners that appear at the bottom of the screen while you play. They run over the full Solitaire window, some for 15 seconds and some for 30 seconds, and while they don't seem to pop up very often ... they can't be aborted."[14] The Telegraph wrote that users are in "disbelief" that they would have to pay to play a game without being "interuppted [sic] by a slew of adverts."[15] Rock, Paper, Shotgun said that the changes are a "particularly heartbreaking sign of the times" and that some users would find it "profoundly sinister" that "a large corporation is gathering and storing vast amounts of data on your computing habits, and not simply what you do in a browser."[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Busines Insider wrote the game "became an iconic part of the operating system [Windows 3.0]".[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b tablesaw on February 26, 2007 7:14 PM (2007-02-26). "Column from Tony "Tablesaw" Delgado about puzzle games". Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  2. ^ Cobbett, Richard. "The most successful game ever: a history of Minesweeper". Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Latif, Usman (2003-11-30). "Minesweeper First Click Behavior". Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  5. ^ Woody Leonhard. Windows Vista all-in-one desk reference for dummies. p. 342. ISBN 0-471-74941-9. 
  6. ^ "Windows 2000". Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Microsoft Shell Blog – The UI design minefield – er... flower field? at the Wayback Machine (archived January 19, 2008)
  8. ^ "Arkadium on revamping Solitaire, Mahjong, and Minesweeper for Windows 8 [Interview]". Gamezebo. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "The new and updated games of Windows 8". Ars Technica. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Richard Hay. "Microsoft Adds Premium Subscriptions to Windows 8 Games to Remove Ads. Could Built In Apps be next?". Windows Observer. 
  11. ^ "Windows 10 makes you pay to remove ads from Solitaire". Wired UK. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Alissa Walker. "If You Want Microsoft Solitaire Ad-Free It'll Cost You $10/Year". Gizmodo. Gawker Media. 
  14. ^ "Windows 10 Solitaire requires a subscription to remove ads". PC Gamer. 
  15. ^ "Windows 10: Now you have to pay to play Solitaire". 31 July 2015. 
  16. ^ "How To Stop Windows 10's Spying Ads - Rock, Paper, Shotgun". 
  17. ^

External links[edit]

Richard Kaye "Minesweeper in NP-complete!" 'Mathematical Intelligencer' (volume 22 number 2, pages 9--15).