What Happened to Solitaire and Minesweeper in Windows 8 and 10?

The classic desktop versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper are gone in Windows 8 and 10. Instead, you’ll find shiny new versions with advertisements, Xbox integration, and optional subscription fees. But you can still play Solitaire and Minesweeper without ads, and without paying a cent.

How to Launch Solitaire on Windows 10

Solitaire is installed by default on Windows 10. You can just open the Start menu and launch the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” application to open it.

If the Microsoft Solitaire Collection isn’t installed—perhaps you’ve uninstalled it in the past—you can get it from the Windows Store.

How to Get Minesweeper on Windows 10

Microsoft Minesweeper isn’t installed by default on Windows 10, but it’s available for free. To install Minesweeper, launch the “Store” application and search for “Minesweeper”. Click the “Microsoft Minesweeper” tile and click “Install” to install it.

You can also click here to go straight to Microsoft Minesweeper on the Windows Store.

Once it’s installed, you can launch Microsoft Minesweeper from your Start menu.

On Windows 8, neither Solitaire nor Minesweeper are installed by default. You’ll need to open the Store and search for Solitaire and Minesweeper to install the Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Minesweeper applications.

How Solitaire and Minesweeper Are Different on Windows 8 and 10

Whether you like the new games depends what you’re looking for. The good news is that they’re more shiny and polished than the old Solitaire and Minesweeper games.

The Microsoft Solitaire Collection includes quite a few different games—Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid, and TriPeaks. Klondike is the classic, default solitaire experience you’re probably familiar with from previous versions of Windows.

You can choose “solvable decks” of different difficulty levels—decks guaranteed to be solvable so you don’t get stuck and have to restart—or use a traditional, randomly shuffled deck.

The Microsoft Solitaire Collection offers daily challenges you can compete in to earn badges. You’ll be given a specific game and deck and asked to perform a specific task. You’ll also find events, which are a series of challenges. You can choose different themes to customize your deck and gameplay area.

In Microsoft Minesweeper, you can choose a traditional board of an easy, medium, expert, or custom size. This game also offers daily challenges made up of pre-made boards of various difficulties. Challenges may ask you to mark the location of 10 mines with flags, for example, or detonate a specific number of mines within a certain number of moves.

Microsoft Minesweeper also has an “Adventure” mode where you try to reach the exit of a dungeon while avoiding traps and monsters and collecting gold. You have to find and avoid traps by using numbers on the floor. That part works just like traditional minesweeper.

These games are integrated with MIcrosoft’s Xbox Live, so you’ll earn Xbox achievements by playing Solitiare and Minesweeper, too.

If you like the new Solitaire and Minesweeper games, check out Microsoft Mahjong. It’s a similar game, complete with daily challenges and a variety of puzzles and themes to choose from. Like Minesweeper, it’s available as a free download in the Windows Store.

For all the pretty features these games offer, they have built-in advertising and require separate yearly subscription fees to play without ads. Currently, the Microsoft Solitaire collection costs $15 per year, Microsoft Minesweeper costs $10 per year, and Microsoft Mahjong costs $10 per year. These are separate fees. So, to play all three games without ads, you’ll need to pay $35 per year.

Solitaire has actually gotten more expensive over time, too. When Windows 10 launched, Microsoft was only charging $10 per year for ad-free Solitaire.

Worst of all, we’ve seen 30-second video advertisements in these applications. That’s a deal-breaker for time-wasting games you may want to play in short bursts.

You don’t need to pay, however—if you don’t mind looking at the ads, you can play all you want for free by playing different versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper.

How to Play Solitaire and Minesweeper Without Ads

There are some great ad-free alternatives to Microsoft’s new Solitaire and Minesweeper games. You don’t have to pay anything extra or look ad ads if you just want the basics.

We’ve put up completely free Solitaire and Minesweeper games on URLs that anybody can access in a desktop browser. And there are no ads.

solitaireforfree.com

minesweeperforfree.com

Google now offers an ad-free solitaire game, too. Just search for “solitaire” on Google and you’ll see a Solitaire game you can play right on Google’s search results page.

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+.