Video games have been included in versions of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting from Windows 1.0x, all published by Microsoft. Some games that have appeared in Microsoft Entertainment Pack and Microsoft Plus! have been included in subsequent versions of Windows as well. Microsoft Solitaire has been included in every version of Windows since Windows 3.0, except Windows 8 and 8.1. The most recent version of Windows, Windows 11, includes the free-to-play title Microsoft Solitaire Collection.
Microsoft planned to include games when developing Windows 1.0 in 1983–1984. Two games were initially developed, Puzzle and Chess, but were scrapped in favor of Reversi, based on the board game of the same name. Reversi was included in Windows versions up to Windows 3.1. Solitaire was developed in 1988 by the intern Wes Cherry. The card deck itself was designed by Macintosh pioneer Susan Kare. Cherry's version was to include a boss key that would have switched the game to a fake Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, but he was asked to remove this from the final release.
Microsoft intended Solitaire to "soothe people intimidated by the operating system," and at a time where many users were still unfamiliar with graphical user interfaces, it proved useful in familiarizing them with the use of a mouse, such as the drag-and-drop technique required for moving cards. According to Microsoft telemetry, Solitaire was among the three most-used Windows programs and FreeCell was seventh, ahead of Microsoft Word and Excel. Lost business productivity by employees playing Solitaire has become a common concern since it became standard on Microsoft Windows.
The Microsoft Hearts Network was included with Windows for Workgroups 3.1, as a showcase of NetDDE technology by enabling multiple players to play simultaneously across a computer network. The Microsoft Hearts Network would later be renamed Internet Hearts, and included in Windows Me and XP. 3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet is a version of the "Space Cadet" pinball table from the 1995 video game Full Tilt! Pinball.
In Minesweeper for Windows Vista and 7, the game comes with an alternate "Flower Garden" style, alongside the default "Minesweeper" style. This is due to controversy over the original land mine theme of the game being potentially insensitive, which was settled by defaulting the appearance based on region so that "sensitive areas" used the "Flower Garden" style.
Support for Internet games on Windows Me and XP ended on July 31, 2019, and Windows 7 on January 22, 2020.
Several third party games, such as Candy Crush Saga and Disney Magic Kingdoms, have been included as advertisements on the Start menu in Windows 10, and may also be automatically installed by the operating system. Windows 11 includes the Xbox app, which allows users to access the PC Game Pass video game subscription service. Additionally, versions of the Microsoft Edge browser (bundled with Windows 10 and 11) since 2020 include the Surf game.
Starting from Windows 8 onwards, updated versions of previously bundled games are now under the brand Microsoft Casual Games, in addition to several brand new games. These free-to-play games include Solitaire Collection, Minesweeper, Mahjong, and Ultimate Word Games. With the exception of Solitaire Collection being included in Windows 10 and 11, these games are not included with Windows, and are instead available as ad-supported free downloads in Microsoft Store.
Premium monthly and annual subscriptions are available, which removes advertisements and offers several gameplay benefits, a move that has been criticized by reviewers as a way to "nickel and dime" users, since previous versions of Solitaire and previously bundled games did not have any advertisements or paid subscriptions.
|Games included with Windows releases|
|1.0x||2.0x and 2.1x||3.0||3.1||NT 3.1, NT 3.5 and NT 3.51||95||NT 4.0||98||2000||Me||XP||Vista||7||8 and 8.1||10||11|
|3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet|