Windows Minesweeper was first released as part of the Windows Entertainment Pack (WEP) on 8 October 1990. WEP was the first collection of games developed by Microsoft for Windows 3.0 instead of MS-DOS.
Windows 3.0 debuted on 22 May 1990 and Microsoft decided the new operating system needed some games. Employees were asked to submit programs and "Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows" was released on 8 October 1990 with seven games and a screensaver retailing for $39.95. The pack was advertised with the slogan "Now you can use the incredible power of Windows 3.0 to goof off". WEP was so successful Microsoft quickly released three more packs with the original release rebranded "Microsoft Entertainment Pack 1".
One of the employees who submitted games was Robert Donner. He joined Microsoft in 1989 along with Curt Johnson and the pair wrote several games under the label "Duff Software" in spare time. One game was a 3D version of Tic Tac Toe ("3-D TicTacToe") with the player competing against the computer. Another game was a version of Mine ("Win Mine") with the player using hidden number clues to clear landmines. Donner submitted these two games and both were accepted by "the Product Manager"1. It is unclear whether this was Bruce Ryan2 or Charles Fitzgerald3. The graphics and Help files were cleaned up and Legal renamed the games TicTactics and Minesweeper.1 According to Libby Duzan, the Lead Product Manager for Games during 1992-1994, Minesweeper was included because "it was the favorite game of everybody involved" in creating WEP.4
A total of 28 games were released in addition to the IdleWild screensavers. WEP 1 (1990) included Cruel, Golf, IdleWild, Minesweeper, Pegged, Taipei, Tetris and TicTactics. WEP 2 (1991) included Freecell, IdleWild, Jigsawed, Pipe Dream, Rattler's Race, Rodent's Revenge, Stones and Tut's Tomb. WEP 3 (1991) included Fuji Golf, IdleWild, Klotski, Life Genesis, SkiFree, Tetravex, TriPeaks and Wordzap. WEP 4 (1992) included Chess, Chip's Challenge, Dr. Black Jack, Go Figure, Jezzball, Maxwell's Maniac and Tic Tac Drop.
Minesweeper became so popular it was added to the Windows 3.1 operating system in 1992. A review by COMPUTE! Magazine5 in August 1991 focused solely on the new Minesweeper game:
The Microsoft employees who contributed games to the Entertainment Pack shared their programs at work using tongue-in-cheek distribution companies. For example, in addition to "Duff Software" another group of programmers released games using the label "Bogus Software". It was also common to make fun of each other and in Chip's Challenge, released as part of WEP 4 in 1992, Chuck Sommerville spelled "Rob D" in the tile arrangement of Level 145.
Microsoft later released "The Best of Windows Entertainment Pack" (BOWEP) in 1994 with 13 of the games and in 2001 released a version of BOWEP with seven games for the GameBoy Color that included Minesweeper and TicTactics. Having run out of games developed in-house, Microsoft hired a company in 1995 to develop 10 games for the "Microsoft Entertainment Pack Puzzle Collection" later releasing the Puzzle Collection with six games in 2000 for the GameBoy Color.6,7
|1||Email from Robert Donner dated 15 June 2005 sent to the author of this article.|
|2||Twitter - Bruce Ryan tweet 14 August 2015.|
|3||New York Times - Interview with Charles Fitzgerald on 12 February 1991.|
|4||New York Times - Libby Duzan interview on 1994-03-09.|
|5||Great Games that Come Cheap - COMPUTE! Magazine, August 1991, Issue 132, Page 98.|
|6||Moby Games - WEP release history with screenshots and details for each game.|
|7||GameFAQs - BOWEP Release details for GameBoy Color.|
Article created 20 October 2020 by Damien Moore and updated 15 September 2021.