Official versions have identical gameplay to the original Microsoft Minesweeper ("Winmine") but save videos with statistics.
|Arbiter 0.52.3||Detailed statistics and game history.|
|Minesweeper X 1.16||Accurate clone of Winmine with unlimited density options.|
|Viennasweeper 3.0.2H||Popular version for tournaments played at Scoreganizer.|
Microsoft Minesweeper is no longer allowed on the World Ranking except for historical scores. Windows Vista was banned in 2006 because it introduced the ability to play the same board multiple times. All Microsoft versions were banned in 2008 due to Cheats and the fact the Community has developed secure Clones with video recording.
Players are ranked by the fastest sum of their time records for Beginner (8x8 with 10 mines), Intermediate (16x16 with 40 mines) and Expert (30x16 with 99 mines). Ties are broken starting with the most difficulty level; for example, a player with 5-20-75 will be ranked higher than a player with 5-19-76 because they have a better score on the more difficult level. Other world rankings use highest sum of solving speed (3BVS) or highest sum of mines (Density).
Microsoft Minesweeper starts the clock at 1 second on the first click. Official clones start decimal timers at 0.00 seconds. The community rounds up to the nearest integer thus 0.49s is a 1 second game. This sometimes causes confusion because 49.01s is a 50 second game and not "Sub50".
Official versions automatically save your best times. To save more videos review your settings. Viennasweeper (*rmv) automatically saves all finished games. Minesweeper X has an "Auto-Options" menu with some simple rules for saving videos. Arbiter allows you to customise how videos are saved and named.
Minesweeper Clone was an official version from 2004-2013. It was the only official version for the China Ranking until being banned at which point the China Ranking switched to Arbiter. To watch old Clone videos from the China Ranking change your language settings.
3BV is the minimum number of left clicks needed to win a game. It is a popular way to measure board difficulty and a popular ranking is 3BVS (your effective solving speed). Boards are randomly generated so it is theoretically possible for a Beginner, Intermediate or Expert game to be solved in 1 click. Rankings for Time enforce 3BV limits of 2 (Beginner), 30 (Intermediate) and 100 (Expert) to ensure the rankings reward skill. The rankings for 3BVS enforce a limit of 10 for Beginner to give less weight to the random clicks used to start the game.
The rankings only accept games solved with skill. Beginner games solved in 1 click were banned in 2005 and "lucky" games were banned in 2011. A "lucky" game involves random clicks and no solving.
Microsoft Minesweeper allowed a maximum density of (1-x)(1-y) mines. This remains the official limit for the density rankings. A limit is needed because increasing the density reduces the number of unique boards and makes it easier to win by luck instead of skill. For example, a Beginner (8x8) game with 63 mines has only 64 unique boards and all 64 boards can be won with 1 click.
Official density grids are 8x8, 9x9, 16x16, 30x16 and 30x24. The original Microsoft Minesweeper levels were Beginner (8x8), Intermediate (9x9) and Expert (30x16). Windows XP changed the Beginner grid to 9x9 while the maximum board size in all versions is 30x24. You can play larger boards using Arbiter (30x30) and Minesweeper X (unlimited) but for historical reasons only these 5 levels are used for rankings.
Knowing information about a board in advance is cheating. For example, using a program to read mine locations from computer memory and abusing Board Cycles to play memorised boards are both UPK. In 2008, a player hacked Minesweeper Clone 0.97 to show 3BV before starting the game and this allowed players to choose and play the easiest boards.
The list of countries used for country rankings is not a political statement. It is based on United Nations membership status per the Wikipedia article listing of Sovereign States. There are 193 members, 2 observer states (Vatican City, Palestine) and 4 non-member states that are members of UN organisations (Cook Islands, Kosovo, Niue, Chinese Taipei).
There are currently no official versions specifically for Linux or MacOS systems. This is embarrassing...