Geek Trivia

What Did Microsoft Include With Early Windows Versions To Train People To Use The Mouse?

VHS Training Videos
Training Seminars
Virtual Tutorials
Historically, Valuable Library Books Were Protected With?

Answer: Games

These days the Graphical User Interface (GUI) is so firmly embedded in the computer landscape it’s difficult to imagine a time when computer users weren’t very familiar or comfortable with it. When Windows 3.0, the first widely adopted and successful release of the Windows operating system came out in 1990, the majority of first time users had little to no experience with using a mouse or a GUI operating system interface.

In order to facilitate mouse/GUI skill building, Microsoft opted not to rely on tutorials or demonstrations but organic learning through games. Windows 3.0 included Solitaire as well as Reversi (which had appeared in earlier versions of Windows). While Reversi helped with encouraging users to use the mouse buttons, Solitaire was the real gem of the guerrilla educational campaign as it required the user to click, hold, and then drag and drop: key elements of the Windows experience. While the action of drag-and-drop is second nature to computer users now, at the time it was a novel experience and Solitaire was highly influential in teaching new computer users to both use the mouse in general and the GUI elements of their new operating system.

The GUI training didn’t stop there, however, in the next minor iteration of Windows, Windows 3.1, another staple of the casual Windows gaming pantheon appeared: Microsoft Minesweeper. Just like Solitaire had trained people to use the drag and drop motion, Minesweeper’s heavy emphasis on using right, left, and middle mouse buttons encouraged mouse dexterity.