The desktop versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper are gone in Windows 8, replaced with Xbox-integrated full-screen versions. While the classic desktop versions are missing in action, there’s a way to get them back.
Hardcore gamers may scoff, but Solitaire and Minesweeper are popular time wasters that every Windows user has fired up at some point. Windows 8 brings significant changes to these classic games that have been with us since Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1, respectively.
Playing the New Solitaire and Minesweeper
To play the new Solitaire or Minesweeper, click the Games tile on your Start screen.
This opens the Xbox games app, where you can choose to install Solitaire and Minesweeper, along with other games like Mahjong and Pinball.
To play one of the games, click its tile and click the Play button.
You’ll be prompted to install the game from the Windows Store.
Click the Install button on the game’s store page to install your game of choice. You can also search for Solitaire, Minesweeper, or other games directly from the Store app, accessible from the Start screen.
Tiles for games you install will appear on the Start screen. Click one of the tiles to play a game.
Each game allows you to choose between several different modes. If you’re played classic Solitaire, Klondike is likely the mode you’re most familiar with.
Both Solitaire and Minesweeper include Xbox achievements, as silly as that may seem.
There’s even an achievement for losing in Minesweeper – “Happens to Everybody.”
Restoring Desktop Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Other Classic Games
Windows 8 no longer includes the desktop versions of Solitaire, Minesweeper, and other classic games. Assuming you have a Windows 7 computer lying around, you can copy the old versions of these games to your Windows 8 system and make a few tweaks to get them working.
First, on your Windows 7 computer, navigate to C:\Program Files\, locate the Microsoft Games folder, and copy it to a USB drive (or other removable media).
Next, navigate to the C:\Windows\System32\ folder on your Windows 7 system and copy the CardGames.dll file to the USB drive, as well.
Connect the USB drive to your Windows 8 system and copy the Microsoft Games folder to its old location at C:\Program Files\ on Windows 8.
Copy the CardGames.dll file to the Solitaire subfolder. You’ll also have to copy this file to the FreeCell, Hearts, and SpiderSolitaire folders if you want to play those games.
Unfortunately, each of these games performs a Windows version check when it runs. We’ll need to patch out the version check so they run properly.
To do so manually, you can use a hex editor to open each game’s .exe file and search for the following bytes:
7D 04 83 65 FC 00 33 C0 83 7D FC 01 0F 94 C0
Replace the first 7D in the sequence above with EB, and then save the file. You’ll need to do this manually for each game’s .exe file.
An easier way of patching is using Microsoft Games Patcher, which does this tedious work for you. Just download the patcher, double-click it, and click the Patch button.
(Important Note: Windows 8’s built-in Windows Defender will flag this patcher as potentially malicious software. You can safely ignore this warning. The exact categorization is HackTool:Win32/Patch.P. As we can see on Microsoft’s malware database, this “is a generic detection for a series of hacking tools intended to “patch” programs that may be evaluation copies, or unregistered versions with limited features.” It’s flagged as malware because it’s similar to tools that are often used by pirates to “crack” software.)
After patching or hex editing each game’s .exe files, the desktop versions of these classic games will run normally in Windows 8.
You can right-click each game’s .exe file to add it to your Start screen, pin it to your taskbar, or create a shortcut.
You can now play these classic games from the full-screen environment formerly known as Metro or the classic Windows desktop!
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 08/20/12