Do you fondly remember playing card games in a classroom on a Windows 95 workstation? Perhaps you passed the time in an early 1990s office cubicle sweeping for mines. You can relive the classic games of Windows past today. We’ll show you how.
Play Classic Games Bundled with Windows
The games featured below are pack-in games that came with Windows, including classics like Solitaire. The Windows 7 versions of many of the games below can be found in the Windows 7 Games for Windows 10 and 8 pack from Winaero.
We tested this pack under Windows 11 (the ARM version running on a MacBook Pro, no less), and they all work except for the online-dependent titles due to the servers being offline.
Grab the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, which includes all the classic modes and a few new ones. It’s included in Windows 11 and available on mobile platforms like Android and iOS. You can also play the Windows 3.1 version in-browser via DOSBox.
This is probably the best version of the classic card game you can get your hands on. It also includes different game modes, including Spider Solitaire (as seen in Windows 2000 through Windows 7).
You can also play solitaire in your browser at Solitaire For Free.
Play the classic Minesweeper in your browser for free right now. The game includes various difficulty levels with the nostalgic teal Windows 95 background and interface trimmings. It’s just as addictive (and punishing) as you remember. Plus, you can grab the source code if you want.
FreeCell is another card game catered for the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, which you can download for free for Windows 11, Android, and iOS. You can also play FreeCell in your browser using websites like FreeCell.io without downloading anything.
The Windows 7 version of FreeCell is available in the Windows 7 Games for Windows 10 and 8 pack by Winaero.
3D Pinball Space Cadet
A beloved inclusion in the Microsoft Plus! pack for Windows 95, 3D Pinball for Windows has been fully reverse-engineered to run on just about everything. You can download standalone versions for modern 64-bit versions of Windows (including Windows 11) or source ports for macOS, Linux, LG’s webOS TV platform, AmigaOS 4, and the PS Vita.
Alternatively, you can play 3D Pinball Space Cadet in your browser too.
Internet Backgammon, Checkers, Reversi, and Spades
The Internet versions of Backgammon, Checkers, Reversi, and Spades first appeared in Windows Me and XP around the turn of the millennium. At this time, internet adoption was booming, and the idea of a shared “family PC” was still a thing.
Reversi was the first game ever included with Windows 1.0, though it didn’t include online play at the time.
While the Windows 7 versions of these games are available in the Windows 7 Games for Windows 10 and 8 pack, the servers are dead, so they no longer work. However, you can still enjoy many versions of these games online.
For example, they are available in some form in Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics for the Switch (one of our favorite Switch titles). You can also play them over the internet in VR using Tabletop Simulator.
Here are some more ways to play:
- Backgammon: Play in your browser at 247Backgammon.org.
- Checkers: 247Checkers.com is the fastest way to play the game also known as draughts.
- Reversi: Plays.org has a decent version of Reversi.
- Spades: Hit up 247Spades.com to play Spades in your browser right now.
Hearts is a card game about passing cards to other players. It appeared in Windows 98 through Windows 7 but hasn’t appeared since then. Solitaired has a good version of Hearts that’s ad-free. It also features online multiplayer.
The Windows 7 version of Hearts is available in the Windows 7 Games for Windows 10 and 8 pack.
Inkball is a weird little game that first showed up in Windows XP Tablet PC edition and later Windows Vista Home Premium and above. This game required players to quickly draw lines to direct balls into holes of matching colors.
Short of installing the relevant version of XP or Vista on a virtual machine, your best bet is this browser-based reimplementation by GitHub user ghallak.
Purble Place was included with Windows Vista and Windows 7 as an educational game for children, with three minigames: Purble Pairs, Comfy Cakes, and Purble Shop. The best way to play this game is to use the Windows 7 Games for Windows 10 and 8 pack from Winaero.
Mahjong is a game you can enjoy all over the web, but if you want the Windows 7 version, you’ll have the most luck with the Windows 7 Games for Windows 10 and 8 pack. Otherwise, browser-based mahjong games like PlayMahjong.io, as well as Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics for Switch, are good alternatives.
Hover! only ever appeared in Windows 95 after being included in the CD-ROM version. Microsoft revived it in 2013 as a browser game, but the website has since disappeared. Fortunately, you can still access it using a Hover.ie Internet Archive snapshot.
Being a Windows 7 inclusion, the original Chess Titans is included in the Windows 7 Games for Windows 10 and 8 pack. Alternatively, it’s just chess, so you can play it anywhere, including on your browser via Chess.com.
Play Games From Microsoft Entertainment Packs
In addition to pack-in games, other Windows titles were included with one of four Microsoft Entertainment Pack releases between 1990 and 1992. Later in 1994, Microsoft released a final collection called The Best of Microsoft Entertainment Pack.
These are all 16-bit games, meaning they run on 16-bit versions of Windows from Windows 3.0 up, and 32-bit versions up to Windows Vista’s 32-bit version. They don’t run on Windows 8 or later or any modern 64-bit versions of Windows.
For the full experience, we recommend playing these games natively in a Windows 3.1 environment. You can install Windows 3.1 in DOSBox, then grab a copy of your Microsoft Entertainment Pack of choice (most of which are available via the Internet Archive) to play.
If you want to get started quickly, there are a few other ways of enjoying these old favorites.
A computer-controlled game of cat and mouse, Rodent’s Revenge was included with the second Microsoft Entertainment Pack in 1993. It has since been remade in Java and can be downloaded for free (or played using the Java applet in your browser) as Rodent’s Vengeance.
Originally a launch title for the Atari Lynx home console, tile-based puzzler Chip’s Challenge was later bundled with the fourth Microsoft Entertainment Pack in 1994. In 2015, the game was made available for free on Steam.
Klotski is a clone of an early 20th-century sliding wooden block puzzle, included in the third Microsoft Entertainment Pack. A developer by the name of Philippe Fremy has recreated Klotski in Python as a Windows executable that you can run on modern versions of Windows.
You can even get it running on other platforms, but you’ll need Python 3.5 and PyQt 5. This version includes all the same levels as the original Windows 3.1 release.
After being included in the original Microsoft Entertainment Pack, Jezzball also appeared in The Best of Microsoft Entertainment Pack. The rule here is to draw lines to capture as much of the level as possible without any balls bumping into the lines as they’re being drawn. Play for yourself in your browser.
Pipe Dream (Pipe Mania)
Released for the Amiga by The Assembly Line in 1989 as Pipe Mania and later ported to other platforms (including Windows 3.1) by Lucasfilm Games, Pipe Dream is a puzzle game about connecting a set of pipes on a board in a set time frame. This formula has since been cloned and used countless times (perhaps most notably as a hacking minigame in the Deus Ex franchise).
Game of Life
Also known as John Conway’s Game of Life or simply Life, this cellular automaton meets all the criteria of a zero-player game. This means it plays itself after the player provides a single initial input. You can run Game of Life for yourself in your browser.
Everyone Has Their Favorite
Eagle-eyed Windows connoisseurs will notice the lack of Windows Vista Ultimate favorite Tinker on this list. Even after following a set of detailed instructions posted on the Microsoft Answers website using Windows 11, we weren’t able to get it working. You’ll need to install Vista Ultimate on a virtual machine for that one.
Hopefully, you’ll discover your favorite pack-in or Microsoft Entertainment Pack game on this list. While not all of the games are faithfully recreated, most can be enjoyed on modern browsers or your smartphone in a manner that was unthinkable when they were first released.
We’ve ranked our favorite games included with Windows. Check it out!
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