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Microsoft's official Minesweeper app has ads, pay-to-win, and is hundreds of MBs (tech.lgbt)
389 points by kibwen 36 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 212 comments

The Xbox store page says this was released all the way back in 2012, so this is definitely not new. Even then, I'm pretty surprised at how low of a bar MS has for proudly putting their name on it. I can't imagine the likes of Google or Apple publishing an in-house-made cash-milking P2W game. Why did they need this, anyways? Are the absurd profits from all other sectors insufficient to make this tiny, obscure app completely free? Why do they need to penny-pinch so hard?

Often times when this stuff comes up I think it’s Microsoft’s organizational structure that’s to blame. Namely that each team operates like their own little company in many ways. So the team and PM for minesweeper forget they’re just a small part of a broader ecosystem.

At some point I hope there's an interesting documentary or memoir on whatever happened to Microsoft's Carbonated Games, because in my mind as an Xbox fan from the early days of the 360 that's maybe where some of the interesting bodies were buried. At the time as an intern in an entirely different division, Carbonated Games seemed like it was built out of PopCap envy. (Today it might be called King envy, with the irony that Microsoft now owns King.) It seems like there was an idea to take casual games seriously, and they had some incredible talent. Hexic was designed by Alexey Pajitnov (of Tetris fame), who had been working for and was seemingly under-utilized by Microsoft for years at that point (other than Hexic his biggest known contribution to a Microsoft product was 1997's [fantastic] Microsoft Puzzle Collection aka Microsoft Entertainment Pack [5]: The Puzzle Collection).

I don't have any clue how or why Carbonated Games blew up (other than jokes about maybe they were a bit over-carbonated), but the only official game they released was Hexic and a few later versions of Hexic.

There was a sense that Carbonated was going to be the first party developer in charge of things like modern Solitaire and Minesweeper. For whatever reason that Carbonated blew up, when it blew up Microsoft let a second-party relationship (Arkadium) sweet talk them into that catbird seat. It's an incredible revenue stream for a privately held company and seems to be an incredibly favorable contract that lets them keep using Microsoft's brand.

Should it ever finally come to light, I imagine that the full story of how Carbonated blew up and Arkadium was waiting in the wings for that seems likely to be some binary of either a completely dull story of bad budgeting and worse contracts or an incredible story of international intrigue, bribes, backstabs, and betrayals. (We already know Alexey Pajitnov is a player early in the story, and his Edgerton-led tale is in recent amusement media, but also more recently Arkadium got into a lot of hot water because the majority of their development staff were in an office in Crimea. There's a lot of interesting questions to be had there.)

There's a reason the Microsoft org chart meme exists.


This. Have each department be responsible for their own P&L and out the window goes whatever (brand, vision, ...) glues your organisation together.

That’s been the case at most medium and large tech companies I’ve worked at. The incentives always seem structured that way.

Capitalism only works this way. Why are people constantly surprised.

Having a capitalist structure inside a company is neither mandatory nor common.

Indeed, it’s commonly said that the structure of any given software reflects the organizational structure which built it.

Sounds like a fancy handwavey excuse for organizational blindness.

If I showed up for work in a top hat, gold watch and a lovely lavender evening gown under a piss soaked parka while wearing clown shoes, I would be asked politely but firmly to go home and come back in a presentable fashion for my job.

The MANGA companies do the organizational equivalent of this on the daily and rather than excusing them from the gala people line up to dance and hope that some of the leftover urine dribbles on them.

It's pure insanity that we as a society have no uniformly and completely recoiled in horror from them.

The difference is Apple and Google aren't game publishers in the first place.

Microsoft has actual gaming studios producing otherwise full fledge-games aimed at making money. To note Minesweeper is no longer in Windows (looking at my win11 install, and there's actually no games anymore), so you'd have to go to the store to get this one, or any other.

My point wasn't just about games - it'd be equally applicable to regular software. What I'm saying is that certain practices always come off as cheap, something that desperate developers to do squeeze the most money out of anything they make. You wouldn't see banner ads in Google Authenticator, or a Pro subscription in Apple Notes that lets you have unlimited notes. Of course, those companies still monetize their big-name software products, but they never come off as cheap as MS entrusting a P2W mobile game with the official Microsoft(tm) Minesweeper(c) name.

Of course, Microsoft is also a serious game publisher - even before their shopping spree, Xbox Game Studios had published actual, real, award-winning games. Which only makes this contrast with officially sponsoring borderline mobile shovelware even more jarring.

> You wouldn't see banner ads in Google Authenticator, or a Pro subscription in Apple Notes that lets you have unlimited notes.

Not yet. If Microsoft doesn’t experience any backlash for ad-laden freeware, I’m sure the Execs at Apple will think Notes+Ads is a fine strategy. I think Apple has been itching to do something with their Ad Server for a while.

I think you don't understand Apple's brand. They would much rather charge $100 for wheels for the Mac Pro or double the cost for RAM upgrades than look cheap and have ads on basic apps.

Classiness is relative. Enshittification is real, and Apple's ad division revenue is now in the tens of billions per year. As long as their ads are typeset in a classy font and less obtrusive than those being shown by Microsoft, it won't affect their brand and Apple users will eat happily shit with a big grin on their face. Like, what are people going to do instead? Use Linux?

Apple’s ad revenue is at single digit billions per annum.

They’re not putting them in apps or websites I use (because it’s not mandatory) and I think if you ask around most people would agree.

So if there’s enshittification , you’d have to pint it out to me. And unlike Microsoft and the ads in the start menu or control panel…

I think the first big software house that did this to my memory was Oracle. It had bundled adware in the Java download. Absolutely blew my mind when I first saw it. Now it's normalized. Thanks Microsoft.

This is very similar to King games, which is also a Microsoft subsidiary (as part of Activision Blizzard). The sad part isn't that Microsoft is publishing a P2W Minesweeper, but that the little simple Minesweeper we used to love is now gone. Maybe they realized that anyone who likes Minesweeper can now download a free Minesweeper clone, something that wasn't necessarily the easy or even possible (depending on where you lived) in the pre-Internet days when the original Minesweeper was created.

> the little simple Minesweeper we used to love is now gone.

Reading from the history[0] it seems the whole concept of mine sweeping was getting controversial and when they had to deal with the touch paradigm they made the cut ?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Minesweeper

Yeah, Flower Mode was added late in the XP timeframe and was the only mode allowed in some countries. It does make sense that some countries with living problems from minefields might have some issues with the original game theme.

I feel that you're really offended about the marketing aspect of it, and want to reward brands that try harder to held a cohesive "Premium" image that helps their customer feel cajoled.

Apple sure plays that game better than Microsoft. Google I don't know. Microsoft also probably don't see home customers as premium in the first place, and will keep the clean image for corporate entities only (and oh god do their corporate offering cost an arm and a leg)

I personally don't care that much about the marketing aspect, at the end of the day Apple made broader moves to shut down right to repair, or went full malicious compliance when faced with the EU for instance. Not saying Microsoft has any high ground, they're all at the end of some antitrust trial.

That's where I'll take something that'd dirty but actually works for me, vs being wined and dined in a golden prison cell.

I honestly would not be surprised if Google added some form of ads to Authenticator. The only reason they likely haven't is that it isn't the type of app that is used frequently or for long sessions.

Microsoft has been pretty shameful with ads in Windows recently, but they also give away OS updates for free. Someone that purchased Win 7 has been able to go all the way to Win 11 for free (assuming their hardware is supported on 11).

They basically give away the whole OS for free as long as you're willing to deal with some nag text and customization settings being disabled. I think you can do the same customization with third party tools anyway though. It never locks you out of your computer for not paying, and in exchange they slurp up whatever data they're shipping off from you.

This doesn't make it legitimate. You can just activate it through any of the third party kms servers (or massgrave for non-volume licensed versions) and stop pretending you have a legit copy.

Same with those five dollar vl keys people buy off eBay for some unfathomable reason. Pure waste of money.

> They basically give away the whole OS for free as long as you're willing to deal with some nag text and customization settings being disabled.

This is news to me. By nag text do you mean the "Windows not activated" overlay in the bottom right of the screen?

I've seen it before but not paid too much attention. Are the pro versions of Windows also for free with nag texts?

Win11, for me at least, came with a bunch of phone-app style solitaire games by "Random Salad". I can't find where the executables are: I suspect they're in the hidden folder Program Files\WindowsApps, which tells me "you don't currently have permission to access this folder" and then "you have been denied permission to access this folder". I just disconnected the internet and tried opening one of these games: it span a loading icon for about a minute, then sat with a black window for ages, before finally showing a phone-app card game with spontaneously bouncing icons (one of which would apparently turn ads on) and web links and a generally sketchy feeling.

Windows used to come with a pinball game by Maxis (Will Wright, of SimCity), which was awesome.

>> Windows used to come with a pinball game by Maxis (Will Wright, of SimCity), which was awesome.


Nice. If anybody's wondering: flipper keys are z and /, nudge keys are x and ., and if you zoom the page by about 200% (ctrl-mousewheel) you can see there's a pinball game there.

Yes, OEM installs come with their own (sometimes wild) surprises.

On one hand, it's such a PITA to setup and cleaning windows becomes a rite or passage.

On the other hand, OEMs exist, which is a big deal.

Apple is definitely a game publisher, they have Apple Arcade.

They definitely publish games, especially if we broaden it to the whole AppStore which is a publishing platform on its own.

I should have put it as "game studio owner" I think.

> Google or Apple publishing an in-house-made cash-milking P2W game

Google’s Stadia failed.

Apple’s Arcade is arguably a failure.

While we could debate the merit of granular choices like ads in minesweeper, taking a step back it is clear Microsoft is more savvy that those other two at gaming.

I’ll definitely push back on that. Apple and Google run the number one and number two biggest gaming platforms by revenue.

Microsoft is the also-ran, that can’t make more money than a hi-fi company who fell ass backwards into gaming.

Running an app store is completely different than running a games publishing or even development business. Microsoft publishes and develops games, and it also runs some games platforms. Google and Apple are almost exclusively in the platform side.

Also, calling Android and iOS "gaming platforms" is a bit of stretch. the majority of successful mobile games are significantly different from more traditional games. In fact, they are much closer in their revenue and even development models to the gambling industry, especially in that they almost exclusively make their money off of the addiction of a few gamblers they have the poor taste to call "whales", which they actively seek to nurture. So, I would say that the gaming sides of iOS and Android's app stores are much closer to an online casino than to a games distribution platform (like Steam, the MS and Sony and Nintendo stores, etc).

Of course, this is not really to defend Microsoft, especially when the whole discussion is about a game every bit as scummy as the worse that mobile gaming has to offer.

By gaming revenue?

Very much so. Apple's App Store revenue for just games in an average year is estimated to be somewhere around $8.5 billion which can beat all of Microsoft's Xbox division, Sony's PlayStation division, and all of Nintendo combined.

It was pointed out in multiple threads that gamers were worried about Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard for too much control of videogames, but the real power and money maker that Microsoft was actually buying was always King. Mobile games are the real money makers and everything else is subsidized by that.

Something is wrong with your numbers.

PlayStation revenue is $29B/year. Xbox should be somewhere in the $15B/year range after the Activision purchase. Nintendo is $12B/year. Each of those alone is more than $8.5B, let along combined.

It looks like the $8.5B figure came from the Wall Street Journal, but: 1) it was profit, not revenue, 2) Apple disputed the margins, and 3) this was 2+ years ago using figures from 4+ years ago.


Still... if that reporting is even in the ballpark it implies big gaming revenue for two companies that don't make any games.

Fascinating overview, thanks!

I'm pretty sure it was part of the wave that also included Solitare and Sudoku. They now want you to create an account and log in. There are ads before the game starts. The app is slow to start. All in all pretty terrible all around. Luckily this is on a PC and there are much better alternatives that will run just fine.

You are not looking at it from the right perspective.

Microsoft the company(and shareholders) gives absolutely no shit about it but there is someone somewhere in the org who has that app and its earnings in their yearly priorities and that person and perhaps the people who work for them do in fact care.

Brand damage is very real for large businesses. Developers who abandon Windows for Mac or Linux don't come back when their specific grievance gets addressed by Microsoft because the fundamental trust is broken.

Apple is making similar mistakes with their aggressive App Store take rate, by allowing so many scam apps on the App Store, and with their unfair policy enforcement. Apple sentiment among developers has been declining steadily as a result. For many the tipping point hasn't been reached yet even though they are fed up.

The problem with brand destruction is that it takes a long time to show up as in the revenue chart. But by the time it does a ton of damage has been done.

> the fundamental trust is broken.

This seems to be the core of the discussion.

Is there a fundamental trust to have towards any of these corporation, and where do you go when they all breached the amount of trust you had in them ?

To give a parallel, it's like boycotting every airline that wronged you. Very quickly you have to revise your criteria.

Linux would be the exception as there's a path where you don't need to trust any organization, but I don't think it's practical for an average computer user.

Define the average computer user... if they mostly use web apps, then Linux is completely viable, and I have several friends and family converted for their own online safety for years now.

I meant going to a non commercially owned distro.

While Ubuntu for instance is a good experience, you still need to trust Canonical. Granted it's a lot easier when it's OSS at its core and there's a whole community watching.

Debian is better than Ubuntu in every way. My relatives use it just fine.

Brand damage is very real for large businesses

Correction: brand damage is dangerous for businesses that haven't reached the monopoly stage yet. Once they do, they no longer care about it.


This app can be done in an afternoon.

"that app and its earnings in their yearly priorities"

If you mean, monetizing the day they spent on it, sure, but that's still just ridiculous.

I think that’s a little naive to how these massive dinosaurs operate. Microsoft doesn’t build anything in an afternoon, not even Minesweeper. There are probably multiple careers at least partially dependent on the metrics from this. Everything becomes an ongoing process at MS scale, for better or worse.

Then Microsoft is operating incompetently and it's not my obligation as a player of Minesweeper to endure their shit version of it because their organization is incapable of taking on a simple problem simply.

If you can't as a company belt out a simple game in a short amount of time without roping in 4 project managers a senior project manager 2 senior developers 12 code monkeys and 4 graphic designers and all the overhead to manage them, your company sucks and should be buried.

> Microsoft doesn’t build anything in an afternoon, not even Minesweeper.

Heck, once you factor in alpha, beta, and user testing, I don't think anyone could build a releasable Minesweeper in an afternoon unless it's just a junk implementation.

Surely e.g. the version that was good enough to ship to hundreds of millions in Windows XP is not junk, and it seems like something on that level should be totally doable in an afternoon by someone familiar with GUI application programming? The actual game logic should take like 10 minutes.

Like what would be the scope of an "alpha" that isn't a working game? Opening an empty window? Writing a console version of the logic?

> The actual game logic should take like 10 minutes.

True, but there's a lot more to it than the game logic. Regardless, it's not a complex application by any standard -- but I don't think I know any dev who could implement it well and in its finished form in an afternoon.

> Like what would be the scope of an "alpha" that isn't a working game?

I don't understand this question. Any alpha is a working program. If the devs don't think it's done, then it's not yet an alpha.

Maybe we can give Elon Musk a chance to be Microsoft's CEO.

As much as I do appreciate Elon's takes on a lot of things and some of his approaches. I don't think he would work out well for a corporation the size of Microsoft.

Microsoft is almost more of a conglomerate than a singular software (and hardware) company. It would take a solid leader who also appoints appropriate corporate heads in each division.

The marching orders for Windows seems to be "monetize home users." They don't "sell" the OS anymore on practical terms for home use... it's more about trying to sell adjacent services, shove Edge with built in consumerware plugins and nickel and diming every possible corner to each out a dollar or two a year per user.

You can write it in an afternoon, but it may take years to release it under Microsoft's name. Large organisations are designed for preservation of shareholder value and will take a long time to approve new software or a new feature.

Yeah exactly. That’s how we end up with ads in our taskbar.

Because they don't make much money from Windows anymore. They sell licenses to OEM's for dirt cheap, no longer charge end-users for OS upgrades, and people don't buy new computers as often as they did 15 years ago.

Google makes their money by sucking up all your data and using it to power AdSense. Apple makes money by selling you the whole damn computer with a healthy margin.

I felt this enshittification of Windows was inevitable the moment they announced Windows 10 was a free upgrade for everyone.

They make an absolute killing from Windows in the enterprise space though.

Between Windows Server on-prem licenses, Azure AD, and Microsoft Office, it’s a very lucrative market.

At this point, Windows Home largely just exists to lock people into the familiarity of Windows so it remains the de facto standard of businesses too

They make half a killing, actually. Enterprises skip at least one version. They are just too large to switch all computers over to the next version of Windows so they always skip one.

I’m not talking about desktop Windows, I’m talking about all the services that are bought because people are tied into windows. From domain management tooling through to productivity suites.

You could liken it to the pay-to-win model in that Windows is dirt cheap if you’re not doing anything serious in it. But the moment you want something more business-ready, your costs are going to skyrocket.

They're paying annual licenses if they skip versions or not...

They even pay for extended support beyond EoL.

> Enterprises skip at least one version

This is no more the case with Win10.

Do they all skip the same versions, though?

They do controlled deployments of the new version and either stick to it, or wait for the next one.

What I mean is, do the various enterprises cluster around the same versions? If roughly half of them skip odd versions and the other half skip even versions, and they do this fairly consistently, it doesn't affect revenue patterns.

Net profit margin has been going up since 2015 or so, release year of Windows 10. Gross profit has also been increasing YoY over the same time period. I know it isn't quite that simple - 2/3 of the business is cloud and productivity (Office, etc), and cloud is relatively new, adding a lot of growth, but there is nothing that forces them to eeek out nickels from 13yo via minesweeper ads.

If every department is expected to function as profitably as the most-profitable department, then this can happen.

Even if Windows makes money, if it doesn't make as much as Azure (or whatever else is doing really well at any given moment), then it stands out. Looking at "Home" Windows vs. "Pro" Windows probably makes this even more stark: I'd bet home/consumer editions of Windows are bleeding money.

Heck, they've probably been losing money on home Windows for a decade or more (i.e. even back to when Microsoft still charged for updates), but the loss was offset by sales of Office (every non-techie's first question after giving them a clean Windows install: "where's Office?"). But now installed Office is getting replaced by cloud solutions, most of which aren't Microsoft.

Conspiracy hat time: if the first-party games on the computer are predatory and pay-to-win, it conditions users to accept that situation. This in turn leads to increased profits for other predatory games/apps, of which Microsoft takes their cut.

To clarify: it's not prebundled in Windows. You have to go download it like any other games.

If you see it as first party, Minecraft Dungeons is also first party.

Minecraft Dungeons is more first-party than Minesweeper at this point. Microsoft actually owns Mojang. Microsoft does not own Arkadium.

They're straddling a line, I think. The games may not always be fully "installed" on a clean setup, but there are bundled shortcuts and other hooks to them.

Technically they are Second Party games today. Arkadium have been building them since Windows 8. They get the Microsoft brand for what seems like it must be a very favorable contract, but they are an external, independently (privately held) company.

This makes a lot of sense.

Pure evil of course, and not to defend MS in any way, but makes sense from a faceless "extract-as-much-as-money-possible" perspective.

If I ever payed for minesweeper continue option I would combust

As a long time Windows user, I get the feeling that Microsoft considers Solitaire and Minesweeper as the key differentiators on their platform. You use Windows to have Solitaire and Minesweeper; not for stability, developer APIs, backwards compatibility, security, etc. Those are all add-ons from the zero-interest-rate days that nobody cares about. Windows is about throwaway games; that's why you buy it instead of a Mac which comes with NO GAMES out of the box.

As a result, this is what every PM wants to rally behind. "Increased revenue on Minesweeper by 4000% QoQ." That is how you become the CEO of Microsoft, probably! So you gotta do it.

Having said that, I have neither Minesweeper nor Solitaire on my Windows 10 Pro install... so... I guess I'm technically incorrect. I do get this feeling that those two games are really what Microsoft sees the PC experience as being. Nobody ever told them that both games are actually super boring, and people only played them because the Internet didn't exist back then and it was better than staring into space while your typewriter warmed up or whatever people did in offices back in the day.

This strikes me as a probably outdated view. If anything, Microsoft has de-emphasized preinstalled games and canned most of them since Windows 8, relegating them to being optional installs from the store. The internet says that the only preinstalled game in Win10/11 is Microsoft Solitaire Collection - but I can't even find that on my Windows 11 Pro install. So, considering macOS Chess, it's a one-for-one in terms of preinstalled games.

It strikes me as sarcasm

"Comes with NO GAMES"?? I switched to Mac for Apple Chess. And I was very glad to hear yesterday that they've committed to putting all of their wood behind it going forward.

Hey chess is a sport, not a game!

At first this sounds a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the more I think about this, it might be an actual Project Management Milestone, and it's one bone they can throw to the users, where the rest of the time it's marketing towards the IT department.

These games were originally added to familiarize users with using a mouse in as non-intimidating and fun user friendly of a way as possible. Garbaging that up is the exact opposite of their original purpose.

Taste is a nebulous and rare thing. Microsoft rarely had it - it continues to flail around, with brief rays of hope - many of the Surface products are lovely.

Will Microsoft enshittify Windows? Yes, it already has.

I struggle to remember any point at which Windows (or DOS) was great. Perhaps Windows 2000. This is Windows thirteen years in:


Windows XP was rather beloved as well.

Ask the stock holders.

Since it's somewhat germane, I have gotten win2k's Minesweeper running on the web:

https://evmar.github.io/retrowin32/ , midway down the page

In contrast to the above, the x86 emulator and win32 API implementation is a little over a meg of WebAssembly, hah!

I got very close to a win, but then:

    web/glue/src/log.rs:34 panicked at win32/src/winapi/user32/message.rs:206:5:
    assertion `left == right` failed
      left: 512
     right: 0
I'm playing on Android Chrome 124, and had slightly zoomed in to make the tap targets larger.

Yeah not fully implemented, sorry! For reasons I haven't yet looked into sometimes Minesweeper rarely calls https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/api/winuser/... with the message-filtering params and I haven't implemented that part of the API...

Win 9x copies of minesweeper and solitaire and hearts (and ski free!) run on basically any desktop system thanks to Wine.

The windows XP versions work natively on Windows 11 still.

Can you run wine under windows? I haven't found such compilation...

WSL2 can manage it I bet.

[edit] also I’d be surprised if any of those executables fail to run on native Win11.

There are games/apps that no longer work on vanilla win10/11 and using wine would be good. I wonder how WSL2 would show gui? You would need to run a native win X server and connect to it from WSL2 vm

They've hidden a lot of the complexity, but it seems they use RDP to actually display in Windows: https://github.com/microsoft/wslg

WSL has had X/Desktop integration for a while now (after Win11). Installed apps even get start menu shortcuts, such as if you install Firefox for Linux. The UI experience is more sluggish than native, but iirc it's being worked on. Similar for GPU based AI tooling in Linux via WSL.

Also if you have the exe's handy from windows 7, they run fine on modern windows.

The store page of the game: https://www.xbox.com/en-CY/games/store/microsoft-minesweeper...

Also the answer to many questions: this is an "Xbox games studio" game, which is a Microsoft entity, but not attached to Windows. They obviously play by different rules, even as Windows itself is also playing many tricks.

The comparison point would be Microsoft Flight Simulator for instance, if any.

I prefer Simon Tatham’s version[1]. It’s free, and configurable, and available online, and multiplatform. But the best thing about it is that you can always win, if you use deduction. As such, it’s more a puzzle than a game of chance.

1. https://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/puzzles/js/mine...

People that are into minesweeper play many games in a row, and part of the game is identifying if a game contains a coinflip guess, as early in the game as possible. Then you make that guess as early as possible so you can quickly move onto the next game if you get it wrong. (If you get it right, there's a little slot-machine-like thrill.)

Does Microsoft management or business people in general not see that this is looking like the act of a company desperately try to save itself from bankruptcy? I get that this isn't the case, but it looks really desperate or excessively greedy.

Some one at Microsoft should try to explain this, not sure they can without looking like immoral assholes.

Just want until they start integrating gacha elements into the OS.

Oh, you want to print? Just spend $0.99 on the loot box to maybe unlock that feature! It’s a rare feature that has a 1/20 chance of being found. Good luck!

Honestly, it doesn’t feel too far off unfortunately.

They already do something like that for the HEVC video codec[0]. It's only $0.99!

[0] https://apps.microsoft.com/detail/9nmzlz57r3t7

That 5-star review is wonderful

> 5.0 | Typical 5 star-reviewer

> I enjoy putting my hand into a garbage disposal and giving money to large corporations.

> Ezra , 5/21/2024

At least in that case they probably need to pay (some of) that into the multiple patent pools for HEVC. It's the corporate centipede of microtransactions.

HEVC is a garbage fire from a rights/patent perspective.

How come ffmpeg can do it for free then? Are they violating patent law?

From https://ffmpeg.org/legal.html:

> Q: Bottom line: Should I be worried about patent issues if I use FFmpeg?

> A: Are you a private user working with FFmpeg for your own personal purposes? If so, there is remarkably little reason to be concerned. Are you using FFmpeg in a commercial software product? Read on to the next question...

> Q: Is it perfectly alright to incorporate the whole FFmpeg core into my own commercial product?

> A: You might have a problem here. There have been cases where companies have used FFmpeg in their products. These companies found out that once you start trying to make money from patented technologies, the owners of the patents will come after their licensing fees. Notably, MPEG LA is vigilant and diligent about collecting for MPEG-related technologies.


    if document.ai_analysis.is_urgent:
        price = 250
        price = 99

“Gacha”, that’s a new term to me:


Still not as bad as Android moving the print options under the share button.

I was very pleasantly surprised recently when I installed Animal Well[1] and it was only 32MB. With the way things are going I was expecting a 1GB executable or something.

[1] https://store.steampowered.com/app/813230/ANIMAL_WELL/

Here's a pretty decent web-based Minesweeper clone. No installation of anything needed. Faithful to the original IMHO.


And of course there’s a Simon Tatham version.


I always have to default to the Simon Tatham version of whatever. Bookmarked!

There's also BrianSweeper from the WINDOWS93 application suite: http://www.windows93.net/#!mines

(You can play normally if you disable Troll mode in Game → Options)

A faithful remake of the good ol’ Minesweeper is at https://minesweepergame.de/

Since it’s a PWA, you can also install it.

It’s also open-source: https://github.com/phartenfeller/minesweeper_js

I prefer Simon Tantham's version:


The puzzles are guaranteed to be solvable without guessing, and middle mouse button works as expected, unlike minesweepergame.de.

It looks really cool, but i'll make an argument to how faithful it is. I opened the page, and clicked on a square. Immediate bomb loss. This does go against the rules of Windows Minesweeper.

Thanks for the feedback. Didn't know this was the case. I created an issue and will implement this the next time I find time :)

Oh, this is the origin of the recent HN traffic. Thanks for the shoutout! I started this six years ago during boring university lectures to get better at Web dev. Now I get on average 50 users per month; it's nice to see when others enjoy it.

I'm going to need some independent confirmation. If this is true it's beyond parody.

Edit: welp.

The standard Windows Solitaire game is littered with ads - which you can disable for $2.49/month.

I'd love to see the market demographics behind these games - gut says its elderly who forget about the subscription entirely.

GameDevs who build games for such demographics should feel bad for preying on them.

My grandfather was happily playing card games (as well as using productivity software) on a DOS machine up until he passed in 2011. For the most part, I don't understand modern software (despite working in it). That said, I personally eliminated all Microsoft products from my life a few years back and I wish more people could do the same.

Had to check the date to make sure we weren’t related ;)

My grandpa passed away 5 years ago and still had a working Win95 box from the mid 90s that he used for card games.

Yeah, my grandpa was still using it with a dot matrix printer and some crazy old database program in order to send out mailers for some local community/political organization stuff.

But I get it - I’d still be running Windows 7 if they’d have just let it be.

Self-plug: play on https://FreeSolitaire.win — no ads until game over. You can install it, it’s a PWA (Progressive Web App).

It’s also available in the Microsoft Store: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/freesolitairewin/9p9s4fnp5... It was converted using https://pwa2uwp.fragara.com/

Plugs are welcome when they are backed with a great product. Really nice version of Solitaire. The only "bug" was that the double-clicking to move the cards to the stacks was really finicky (Chrome, Win11).

I wonder if you could get more donations by split-testing the end screen? I was thinking you should try putting a fixed dollar amount, like "Donate $2" instead of something open-ended that forces the user to think.

Oh, thanks a lot for such great feedback <3

About double-click on Win11: hmmm thanks, didn’t know about that. Will investigate as soon as I can put my hands on a Windows device.

About donations: great idea, indeed prompting with a fixed amount could be more performant.

Wow, that's really clean and snappy. I played on mobile, too. Great job!

From this thread, I played and beat Solitaire and Minesweeper on the first tries. I should buy a lotto ticket or something because today is my day.

Thank you!

I thought this couldn't be true, so I tried opening Solitaire and it popped up a Microsoft banner which said "Your free week of Premium starts today!" *crying face emoji*

From the copy: "Hang out with the iconic Minesweeper emoji in NEW Themes."

God, it must have sucked to work on this product.

Yeah, must've been a real minefield.

I enjoyed this 5 star review

"Fun to play, keeps you on your toes! The only problem is that every once in a while, you have to completely uninstall restart your computer and then reinstall, that's the only way you can keep playing."

Makes you pine for the good old days when you merely had to reboot the computer with your daily BSOD!

From that link (under the “MORE” tab): “This app can

Access your Internet connection

Access your Internet connection and act as a server.

Access your home or work networks”

I hope that’s a misconfiguration issue, and that it doesn’t ever act as a server, but who knows?

Looking at all those screenshots, I have no idea what this game even looks like. Is it 2D? 3D? Somehow less informative than the trailers they put in steam pages...

Also, oh my god, they changed the old :) icon to an emoji. This is worse than having ads or being pay to win.

I thought I was fast enough to fix it, but no...

Looks like I loaded the page just in time to see the old version. Sorry if it was fixed by then.

The solitaire one has been like that for.years now. It even shows full screen ads from time to time.

I just installed it, and it's legit (the Watch and Ad to continue playing part, at least).

What. Independent confirmation? Why do you want someone else to do things you can check yourself https://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/store/microsoft-minesweeper...

Does everyone subscribe to WP:NOR in their own lives or something?

Microsoft has been beyond parody since Windows 8.

I think people underestimate where the games market, especially the casual end, is and where it is going. I spent many years in games and oversaw various big transitions (games as live services, premium to f2p etc) and it still shocks me.

Essentially today players have their pre existing habits formed. The only cost effective way to get attention is within those habits. There are not new distribution mechanisms appearing which make this viable. I did a fairly decent Reversi web clone: https://luduxia.com/reversi/ as an experiment for all this and the results are not good.

Microsoft absolutely should not have ads etc in Minesweeper or Solitaire. For Microsoft it is just milking that preexisting audience for every last cent, something many seem to believe US public companies are obliged to do. That audience are not going to look anywhere else for alternatives, and that is the difficult part.

Iirc even 5+ years ago, the 'new' minesweeper was bigger than a win98 simple install

What is the vision over there at Microsoft?

Often when you see this, it is because the manager most in charge oof the thing is being awarded for their team's success and not for the company's success. Does this make Microsoft look worse? Yes. Does this provide fuel for a lot of negative narratives about the company? Sure. Is it worth it? No. But, will it help this one specific team make more money and justify their leader's promotion? Yes, it will. The "vision over there" that causes this is "I will get promoted to a more senior leadership position, make more money, and retire in style."

Nobody ever got promoted for limiting the success of their own little fiefdom in defense of the greater whole.

I think it's "we'll milk all the suckers".

So still the same vision they've had since the early 90s at least

If the cows are still queuing up to be milked why change?

No it makes sense from a profit making perspective, absolutely.

Related: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=37035733

In my view, that's unfair to the early versions of Windows, at least up to Win7.

Sure, they were charging a hefty sum for the OS but it was the best choice for a home and even office user. They used some dirty tactics on the business side of things but the end user was never so blatantly abused. Nowadays, they still charge for the OS but you also get all these ads shoved in your face.

Wish I could convince my non programmer friends to switch to Linux.

> Wish I could convince my non programmer friends to switch to Linux.

Why? If they're happy with Windows then how does that affect you?

Well, because they keep asking me how to log in after they forgot their password for their Live account. Or, how to keep using windows live mail, since it's been replaced by this Mail client, which is horrendous. Or, how they decided to drop support for older drivers and now, after getting Win11, they can't use their scanner.

And while trying to tackle that I am bombed with these ads, that propagate products which are expensive, or subpar or both.

I need to get the T-shirt that says "No, I will not fix your computer" :)

Just tell them you thankfully haven't used it in twenty years, so your knowledge dates to Windows 7 or whatever.

Yeah, but even when constricting this to close family of about 50 people, when you are the "computer guy", it's still difficult to do. Who can they turn to?

I mean, seriously, what is the point of changing the user experience to something completely different every 5 years or so? Even I have trouble keeping up, think of the 60, 70, 80 year olds (my father is 84, struggling using Win11, when he was fine using Win8).

MS created a user experience expectations and they abandon all of it in favor of Mac like user experience, that might be great for 20-something designers, but they throw away all their existing user base for it.

I use KDE. Still the best desktop for me (coming to Linux from Win7, not that I did not try others before actually switching).

> I need to get the T-shirt that says "No, I will not fix your computer" :)

I had one of those. Doesn't work.

There is none. Someone somewhere was given a KPI to increase their departments ad revenue by X%, so that is what they are doing, rest of the company be damned.


I mean, they bought the biggest video game publishers for like $70b or something absurd in lieu of obvious antitrust, which they lost, only to be come a bloated 3rd party publisher, and are now dropping rants about how evil Sony is for having exclusives.

They're packing minesweeper with P2W and ads? Who is in charge over there?

Don't forget closing a bunch of studios that they spent a ton of money on right after buying them, some of which made games that earned multiple GOTY awards the same year they closed.

How is there no cost for the heads of gaming over there who’s ridiculous strategy utterly failed and cost other people’s livelihoods? Definition of a ossified management layer.

outsource all the things?

Next they'll move their European HQ from Ireland to Malta.

This is the same for Microsofts Solitaire. Shameless, really.

Seems reasonable. The much loved here (most likely for being free) VSCode is not gonna fund itself. Someone has got to pay for free stuff.

I think all of our governments are already paying them more than enough.

It's the same with the Solitaire and other games bundled with the OS. I have an older family member who has been really upset that what used to be included-for-free plain old card games are now basically adware.

This is disgusting, but not surprising for microsoft. Can we go back to calling them M$ yet?

Not that google is much better these days, but their minesweeper is still just a simple game


Microsoft is the industry leader in enshittification. They will optimize everything to optimal marketing standards. This goes for all the brands they gobbled-up as well. Activision / Blizzard / Bethesda IPs are essentially done for under Microsoft ownership.

The "good" news is that ActivisionBlizzard was cooked already.

Maybe the dissolution of Arkane Austin was a mercy. And come to think of it, couldn't all of the terminated employees simply regroup and form a new independent studio?

I think a lot of the veteran employees already quit before Redfall even shipped[1]. Hopefully they find something worthy of their talents to work on.

[1] https://www.pcgamer.com/report-most-of-arkane-austins-prey-v...

Of all the things in the world, this made me feel a jolt of sadness.

This is something I really appreciate about the Linux ecosystem... If I find a free tool or game on iOS I hold my breathe and wonder if 1. it will do what it says 2. will extract all my data and send it somewhere 3. will be riddled with ads and slowdowns.

Within the Gnome ecosystem and CLI ecosystem, apps then to be very small and focused and they are not riddled with this bullshit.

The sole game for Linux (Tux Racer) remains free as in beer and freedom.

Yeah it's pretty silly. My son liked to play this, and the solitaire card games, word games, all by Microsoft. They all have absurd ads and nonsense like this.

It all comes off feeling shoddy and low-class. I would think one of the world's wealthiest companies would have a bit more 'self-respect', or whatever the organizational equivalent is.

Is that dialog genuine? It looks like one of those "Your PC has a virus" dialogs found on some dirty websites.

Whoever is the highest bidder

Here's my free web implementation (not optimized for mobile)


This is so cheap, nasty and abhorrent. What a strange branding position for Microsoft to take.

This has been the case for well over a decade now, why is this news today?

As a replacement, you can get SGT Puzzles and Pysol.

But does it have Copilot to help you play the game?

Same with Solitaire. An absolute travesty that we can't even have a simple card game come with our computers without all of this rent-seeking behavior! Even the version of Solitaire that comes with Windows 3.11 is better than the "Solitaire Collection" version that comes with 10 and 11.

Did you actually get it with your computer ?

Yeah it's bundled with the OS, installed by default.

> Microsoft removed Minesweeper from Windows 8 and instead published it as a free game on the Microsoft Store.


Microsoft Solitaire Collection comes with Windows 11, Minesweeper has to be installed from the Store.

the game being discussed was Solitaire not Minesweeper ;)

Once again, corporate greed along with soulless managers and obedient programmers created a digital abomination :-(

If you want to play a very good and old school minesweeper, try out https://minesweeper.online

> obedient programmers

Always good to point this out here. HN readers often forget (or deny) that behind every one of these projects is a team of complicit developers actually typing the code in. Engineering is not blameless.

I wouldn’t exactly say “complicit”. I’m sure that many of them are desperately searching for a new job to get away from whatever idiot product manager decided to put ads and microtransactions in minesweeper.

In the meantime, they don’t have much of a choice but to do as they’re told, or be fired.

> In the meantime, they don’t have much of a choice but to do as they’re told, or be fired.

Well, there is always unionising…

It's not like you can just decide one day that you're in a union now. Do you guys even live in the real world?

You actually can, if everyone else also decides that at the same time. That's the necessary and sufficient condition. It reduces to a coordination problem. If everyone wants to unionise, the only hard part is doing it: but that is only as hard as just… doing it.

If you think you'd benefit from a union, then either: (1) you're an outlier (unlikely); (2) you're mistaken (possible); or (3) many of your colleagues would also benefit from a union. Talking to your colleagues about unionising (over a communications channel not controlled by your employer) is a sensible next step in each of these cases.

>if everyone else also decides that at the same time

You realise that this is a show stopper, right?

Considering that many unions exist… no, it's not. It's easier to start a union now than it was back when unions were invented.

Are you seriously here blaming workers for doing their job?

I mean, everyone directly involved in the creation of a product should at least share the credit and share the blame. Software developers are not special robotic automatons without agency.

I’m more of a Linux fan, but honestly, I sort of miss brutally competent Microsoft. This is just pathetic.

Who’s going to take care of all of the non-technical users?

what was wrong with winmine.exe?

Slackware 15.0 comes with xminesweep and has no ads. And is much smaller:

   VSZ   RSS    SZ CMD
  5908  4160  1477 xminesweep
Size: 37464 bytes

Just saying :)

But can it play audio, access the internet or play video/scroll webpages without screen tearing?

Yes, yes and yes. Altough I hate smooth scrolling on the web.

A year ago Fedora couldn't. So good that there is progress.

no screen tearing and it cannot phone home telling someone what I am doing.

Imagine the embarrassment when the pay-to-win Minesweeper user list leaks.

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