A Look at Windows Vista Installed Games

We take a look at the Windows Vista games that will be responsible for countless hours of wasted productivity through the end of the decade.

By James Yu - posted July 24, 2006

The expensive games usually get all the attention at GameSpot, but we wanted to take a look at the Windows Vista games that will be responsible for countless hours of wasted productivity through the end of the decade. Windows Vista's updated DirectX 10 API promises to give us better-looking and better-playing games by allowing game developers to get more performance out of the PC system, but Vista isn't only going to help improve those $50 games. Microsoft will update Windows's collection of casual games, which includes old standbys such as Minesweeper, FreeCell, and Solitaire, and Vista will also introduce completely new games including Chess Titans, Mahjong Titans, and Purble Place, which are designed to appeal to a large, global audience.

Mouse over each image to see comparison shots. The updated Windows Vista games have XP comparison shots, and the new Vista games have alternate shots.


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The Windows team decided that it was time to overhaul its game collection by updating the user interface and unifying the design style to make the games worthy of the new AeroGlass desktop theme. Solitaire offers the same core gameplay mechanics that we're accustomed to in the current version, but it also has new graphics and supports Windows Vista's new Games Explorer display window, which features game box shots and vital stats such as publisher, developer, and ESRB rating.


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FreeCell also has a new look, but the game still retains the core gameplay first introduced to players in Windows 95. One major change in the Vista version is a new "undo" command that lets you take back moves, which you can abuse to go all the way back to the start of the game if you want. The undo function appears in several of the other card-based games, as well as Mahjong Titans and Chess Titans.

Spider Solitaire

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Vista breaks out two 3D card decks for Spider Solitaire. Select your difficulty level and take advantage of the new "hint" option if you get stuck. Many of the games feature a hint option that will highlight open moves for you to take in case you get stuck. Using hints in Spider Solitaire will make sure you've exhausted all of your options before dealing out another layer.

Discuss: What's your favorite built-in Windows game? What games are you looking forward to the most in Vista? What's your best Minesweeper time at intermediate?


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Pass hearts to other players and avoid the queen of spades at all costs. Be careful when you attempt to shoot the moon (gather all the hearts and the queen of spades)--the undo menu option isn't available in this game. Microsoft is working with casual-game developers to help them produce high-quality games that users will expect to see on the Vista platform. Hearts has a polished look and, like the other Vista games, offers robust saved-game options and advanced game statistics.


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Minesweeper is largely the same, but the new animations add some excitement to the desktop classic. Now when you accidentally uncover a mine, the game reveals all the remaining bombs and detonates them sequentially starting with the closest mines. The whole explosion sequence is much more dramatic than the simple unhappy face we get in Windows XP.

Chess Titans

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Chess Titans, a 3D version of the classic board game, joins Solitaire, FreeCell, Minesweeper, and Hearts to form the core of Windows Vista's casual game collection. The game's 3D display angles show off the beautifully rendered chess pieces. You can play against a human opponent, or the computer, which can be set to 10 different levels of difficulty. Chess Titans is a great game, but it has one major catch: It doesn't come in the Home Basic version of Windows Vista. You'll have to pony up the extra bucks to get a Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate edition of Windows Vista to get Chess Titans.

Discuss: What's your favorite built-in Windows game? What games are you looking forward to the most in Vista? What's your best Minesweeper time at intermediate?

Mahjong Titans

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Mahjong Titans is based on the Mahjong solitaire tile-matching game, not the four-player gin-rummy-like game played in many Chinese and Jewish-American households. The game offers six different game layouts, with tiles spread across the table several layers deep. The goal of the game is to remove all the tiles from the board. Match two exposed tiles to remove them from play. Exposed tiles have empty space to the left or right and mostly lie along the edges of each layout. The rules are fairly basic, but there's strategy involved in selecting which tiles to match. Poor decisions could lead to locked boards without any available matches (that's when you use the undo option). As with Chess Titans, Mahjong Titans is only available in the non-Home Basic versions of Vista.

Purble Place

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If you're an elementary-school-aged child whose likes include cakes, matching games, basic pattern recognition, and practicing the process of elimination, then Purble Place is the Windows Vista game for you. The game consists of three minigames--Purble Pairs, Comfy Cakes, and Purble Shop--that all share the same nonthreatening Purble visual style.

Purble Pairs is a basic memory game that has you matching tiles on the board. However, the game adds some twists with special tiles that modify the board or grant bonuses when matched. You can also earn "sneak peek" tokens that let you view the entire board for a brief period of time. Comfy Cakes puts you in a high-pressure cake production line where you have to build cakes to order. If you fail to produce a perfect cake, the head Purble will chastise you and force you to try again. Fail three times, and you'll lose the game for wasting ingredients. Purble Shop is a guessing game where you have to figure out what a hidden Purble looks like. Match features such as eyes, nose, and mouth to win. The more advanced version adds more colors and features but doesn't change the fact that you don't really care what the Purble looks like.


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InkBall, originally released for the TabletPC, makes its way over to the desktop in Windows Vista. However, be aware that the purpose of the game is to teach tablet users how to use the touch screen and stylus control scheme. After struggling to play through advanced levels with the mouse, we can see why Microsoft is only including InkBall with Vista versions that have tablet support.

The game consists of a square grid that's walled off on all sides. Each grid has an entry point where balls of various colors come into play, as well as exit holes and obstacles such as walls and blocks. The balls themselves will bounce off walls, each other, and any "ink" lines you draw onto the grid. The goal of the game is to sink balls as quickly as possible into the correct holes to score points. The game ends if you sink a ball into the incorrect color hole or when time runs out.

Discuss: What's your favorite built-in Windows game? What games are you looking forward to the most in Vista? What's your best Minesweeper time at intermediate?

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Avatar image for Agulf

Thanks for the vista buisness tip. Shame we don't get texas hold 'em though

Avatar image for SMR-Venom

all the classics are here, cept pinball, but you can just copy and paste from XP on a Flash Drive and get pinball on Vista, I did that D:

Avatar image for dabbster465

They forgot to add Inkball in this

Avatar image for dabbster465

Vista has Minesweeper, i guess they just forgot it in the list

Avatar image for BACCA82

On Business Edition just go into: control panel -> Turn Windows features on or off and turn on the games

Avatar image for Wh1sp3r

With business edition, the games are not installed by default, so you have to add them via the Turn Windows Features On or Off I think.

Avatar image for 360gamerz


Avatar image for mmogoon

buh..buh..teh minesweeper

Avatar image for Fireboy78

Huh? No Mine sweeper?! Damn, if vista have new look mine sweeper would be nice.

Avatar image for noctu3

ok it looks purdy but how many hard core gamers use this os? its the most over hyped unfinished product out there, so they improves the looks of the ui and some generic windows games and the windows games they hype dont look any better then what you can play on the net in a web browser for free lol

Avatar image for ahyumifan

I'm still playing pinball when im bored. I get the good feeling for the day once i reach 10 million.

Avatar image for oblivion1012

Fun given the fact they are free

Avatar image for helluvagood

lol, theses games suck, pinball was the best on xp

Avatar image for levdavid


Avatar image for g3n3r41xan

i personally liked the backgammon, and the minesweeper is good too but the minesweeper on Fedora linux OS is better in my openion. the chess game looks pretty cool, but i dont get why pinball is not included or maybe they might include it in the final release of home premium version

Avatar image for ShadowJinx

oh comeon no pinball, thats retarded, pinball's like the best game out of the XP casual games. And mabye this topic isn't worth a huge feature like this, but I still think its kinda neat to see what the Vista versions look like, why are you people complaining so much about it, not that big of a deal.

Avatar image for AdMordem

i seem to get addicted to minsweeper every year all over again btw switchblade966 - i agree its prob not worth the 3 page spread but my gf was interested in seeing what the games lloked like on vista. 2ndly Mahjong Titans is bound to be a great addition to time wasting (especially at work) And thirdly it might be a MS push for a Vista Live Arcade type thing going on.

Avatar image for johnarthur2


Avatar image for switchblade966

ok first. vista is not being made just because microsoft wants their built-in games to look better. half you people crying about how useless this is don't get the point of vista. or this article. vista is going to have a nicer-looking interface, so they're just improving the look of their games as well. I've never seen these games mentioned as a huge selling point or any kind of selling point for any version of windows. So stop acting like that's what Microsoft is doing. I've never heard them say something like: "Windows Vista! Improved security! Faster! And the games look a lot nicer too!" No. They probably don't give a crap about what people think of the games. Microsoft had nothing to do with this article. Gamespot talks about games. And that's what they're doing here. Taking the games from the new version of windows and talking about them. Although I do think it is extremely lame. Since when did Gamespot have some multi-page in-depth review of the older versions of minesweeper, hearts, freecell and solitaire? Hmmm.. maybe Microsoft had something to do with this article after all... If anything you guys should be blasting Gamespot for making such a huge deal about these little games, rather than Microsoft.

Avatar image for mydasx

actually its direct x that allows you to make use of 3d, and directx has been around a lot longer then areo. areo just uses direct x.

Avatar image for vaejas

Solitaire.... in THREEEE-DEEEEE!! Each of the 52 cards is on its own LAYER! Only with the power of Aero can you manipulate two dimensional objects in three dimensional space.

Avatar image for SgtJcoo

My favorite game is Minesweeper. Best times: Beg. - 8 Seconds Int. - 60 Seconds Exp. - 231 Seconds Im not that good yet.

Avatar image for bboyart

The free games don't make an Operatin System, it just the candy of it. Much focus should be done on other things in Vista than free games.

Avatar image for cwl157

spider solitaire... 'Nuff said

Avatar image for OpIvy420

Solitare's good for those times when I'm like listening to music and talking to someone online and want something to do with my hands while that's going on. And it's cool that Microsoft finally updated these games, Solitare and Minesweeper have looked exactly the same since like Windows 3.1. And I really have no idea how this devolved into a Mac vs. PC debate.

Avatar image for R2Droid

The best games on Vista are Mahjong, Chess Titans and Minesweeper, but after 5 mins you notice the reason they were shipped with Vista is to keep you from noticing that you can’t do anything with it. It’s just eye candy. My advice for those people eagerly waiting for vista is to format there drive and use it for a paperweight after they get tired of that I suggest loading Linux. BTW my fastest minesweeper score is 10 seconds on expert and 3 1/2 on intermediate.

Avatar image for pranavjani

please microsoft please add some new games other than stupid card games like pinball or pockets tanks

Avatar image for onealrl

Bring on some pinball baby!

Avatar image for erikos45

Purble place crashed :(

Avatar image for rokkuman09

Mac is better what are you talking about....Linux is the best

Avatar image for bvhinferno

vista rulez. When they 're gonna shoot our pc? November Maybe??

Avatar image for ruttness


Avatar image for CarlosMind

Wow! lets play InkBall... is really hardcore! Americas Army is a free game.

Avatar image for TruSake1

OH YEAH, SOLITAIRE!! WOO-HOO!! Oh wait... I can play BF2 with others... Well, guess these games are worthless to me.

Avatar image for og8440

Solitaire ftw...

Avatar image for Celine_Aensland

Agreed. Those complaining about the bundled games are retarded - these are for quick distractions. If you get a job - maybe - you might realise how even Solitaire eats up lots of office time. If you put in "commercial grade" games (like, I don't know, that crap Halo thing you fanboys are always moaning about) you won't have time to get any work done.

Avatar image for Gruesome__Toast

Where's Pinball???! They better have kept that in there!

Avatar image for xcube2402

They really have improved.

Avatar image for _Half_Life_

Vista's definatly going to be the way to go...

Avatar image for -Murdock-

The only game I want to play in Vista is Spore. Freecell can eat me. :)

Avatar image for mydasx

"whats with the 'pay more to get the chess game' thing, are microsoft really that desperate for money?" the different versions of vista all have benifits. Chess, IS NOT a reason to upgrade but more of a perk. If you buy your OS simply for the bundled games, you may want to think about investing in say, a comodore 64, they are like 12 bucks, and still run games on them. The reason to upgrade to better versions of the OS can be found at the following link: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/editions/default.mspx i would suggest selecting your OS for reasons like, i want to use RDP etc.

Avatar image for spoogan

i like mine sweeper.

Avatar image for MegaManX9101

@ cikame That Chess game has some really well done Models involved, and was probobly one of the more complicated games to create, so its understandable that they would only include it in more premium versions of Vista. And now for my comment on the actual article. Personally I've never really cared for these Windows games much, but these new renditions of the older cardgames do look really nice. I wonder if they will make fancy card animations so they actually flip and have realistic animations instead of just moving about the screen.

Avatar image for cikame

whats with the 'pay more to get the chess game' thing, are microsoft really that desperate for money?

Avatar image for ledzepmo


Avatar image for Krusher222

Wow! All the negative hoopla over the upgrade is strange. The reality is that just like chess and checkers the MS game suite has become a main stay for gaming. I second the motion that just because they are old and outdated doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose. Sometimes it’s nice to just kick back and play a game of solitaire. Do I think and upgrade or better selection would be nice, sure but please don’t get rid of the old stuff. With that said, I’m really looking forward to the new Chess Titans and Mahjong Titans. Thanks MS for the upgrade!

Avatar image for manapsal

I want bejeweled on it, but i play the games to take a break...especially hearts

Avatar image for Lazy_Boy88

Why did GS post anything about this...

Avatar image for azrealhk

Spider was the best, then minesweeper. Free cell was a joke. Nice to see the Mahjong game. Chess, I dunno, but I guess I saw it coming.

Avatar image for nramsey34

Holy crap people, calm down... You should be happy microsoft includes any games at all! No one is going to buy/not buy windows based on the prepackaged games anyway! But in any case, I think Windows games are great for what they're made for, wasting time. Card games, Minesweeper, and now Mahjong...those are great for a 5-10 minute break from work or writing papers. What makes a great game is not graphics, it's the amount of fun you can get out of it and for these games, that's a heck of a lot. And for those of you who don't believe me, trade in your xbox 360 and go buy a super nintendo, nes or atari...ah the good ol' days!