Microsoft Minesweeper

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Minesweeper Icon
A sample game using the Windows Vista version of Minesweeper
Developer(s) Microsoft
Oberon Games (Vista)
Publisher(s) Microsoft
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Genre(s) Minesweeper
Mode(s) Single-player

Windows Minesweeper is a variant of the computer game Minesweeper, created by Robert Donner and Curt Johnson of Microsoft. Initially released as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows[1] in 1990, it was included in the standard install of Windows 3.1 in 1992, and has been included in every Windows release since. A new version in Windows Vista was developed by Oberon Games.[2]


The goal of the game is to uncover all the squares that do not contain mines (with the left mouse button) without being 'destroyed' by clicking on a mine. 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.


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 667 mines [the maximum number of mines allowed for a field of size A × B is [(A − 1) × (B − 1)].

The beginner board size and the minimal board size increased from 8 × 8 to 9 × 9 in Windows 2000 and its derivatives. The reason for this change is not publicly known.

Interestingly, 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, 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.

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.

In Windows, the Minesweeper board is generated randomly before the player clicks any squares.[citation needed] If the player happens to click a mine square on their very first click, 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, 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. This is done to ensure that the player will not lose on their very first click.

The first clicked square is immune from being a mine in the Windows Vista version of the game. 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 has also led to people taking screenshots (or using Snipping Tool, included with Vista) of the lost game, restarting, and completing the grid with the lost game showing where all the mines are.

Also introduced in the Windows Vista version is a feature activated when the player double-clicks on a revealed number. If the number is not surrounded by the proper quantity of flags, a red X will flash briefly on top of the number. If it is adjacent to the correct number of flags, all covered spaces surrounding the number will be revealed as if the player had clicked on each of them. A similar version of this feature (without the red X) existed in previous versions of the game, but required the player to click with both mouse buttons or use the middle mouse button rather than double-click. While potentially useful in reducing the time it takes to clear a board by lowering the number of clicks required, and removing the need to consider which of the surrounding squares can be safely clicked individually, this feature provides no new strategic advantage. If a space is flagged in error and this feature is used, it can set off a mine and end the game.


In editions of Minesweeper that were released in XP and earlier Windows operating systems, 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 landmines.[3]