Minesweeper (Windows)

Minesweeper (Windows)
Minesweeper Icon
Minesweeper Vista.png
A sample game using the Windows Vista/Windows 7 version of Minesweeper
Developer(s) Microsoft
Oberon Games (Vista)
Publisher(s) Microsoft
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Windows Phone 7
Release date(s) 1990
Genre(s) Minesweeper
Mode(s) Single-player

Windows Minesweeper is a variant of the computer game Minesweeper, created by Curt Johnson, originally for OS/2, and ported to Microsoft Windows by Robert Donner, both Microsoft employees at the time. First officially released as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows[1] in 1990, it was included in the standard install of Windows 3.1 in 1992, and has been included in every Windows release since. A new version in Windows Vista was developed by Oberon Games.[2]



The goal of the game is to uncover all the squares that do not contain mines (with the left mouse button) without being "destroyed" by clicking on a mine. The location of the mines is discovered by a process of logic. Clicking on the game board will reveal what is hidden underneath the chosen square or squares (a large number of blank squares may be revealed in one go if they are adjacent to each other). Some squares are blank but some contain numbers (1 to 8), each number being the number of mines adjacent to the uncovered square. To help avoid hitting a mine, the location of a suspected mine can be marked by flagging it with the right mouse button. The game is won once all blank squares have been uncovered without hitting a mine, any remaining mines not identified by flags being automatically flagged by the computer. However, in the event that a game is lost and the player mistakenly flags a safe square, that square will either appear with a red X covering the mine (denoting it as safe), or just a red X (also denoting it as safe).

The game can be reduced into a set of algebraic statements with binary variables which take a value from the pair (mine does not exist, mine exists). The distinctive feature of minesweeper from the board games with algebra of binary variables[3] is the randomness at the initial stage and at some intermediate stages.


There are three sizes:

Beginner: 8 × 8 or 9 × 9 field with 10 mines
Intermediate: 16 × 16 field with 40 mines
Expert: 30 × 16 field with 99 mines
Custom: Any values from 8 × 8 or 9 × 9 to 30 × 24 field, with 10 to 667 mines [the maximum number of mines allowed for a field of size A × B is [(A − 1) × (B − 1)].

The beginner board size and the minimal board size increased from 8 × 8 to 9 × 9 in Windows 2000 and its derivatives. The reason for this change is not publicly known.

Interestingly, the density of mines is the same on the old 8 × 8 beginner field and on the 16 × 16 intermediate field (10/64 = 40/256). The 8 × 8 beginner game is still easier because it has fewer total chances of hitting a mine, and a smaller chance of having a problem that cannot be solved without guessing. The player is also much less likely to make a careless error because the game is shorter and concentration can be more easily sustained.

Minesweeper in Windows XP

In 2003, Microsoft added a variation of the original Minesweeper, called Minesweeper Flags in MSN Messenger (from version 6 onwards). This game is played against an opponent, and the objective of this game is to find the mines by actually clicking on the squares where the mines are located, not by clicking the surrounding squares. The person who first uncovers 26 (out of 51) mines wins.

In Windows, the Minesweeper board is generated randomly before the player clicks any squares.[citation needed] If the player happens to click a mine square on their very first click, the mine at this square is removed and a new mine is placed in the upper left corner. If there is already a mine in the upper left corner (or it was the square that the player clicked), a new mine is placed in the first (starting in the upper left corner then proceeding left->right, top->bottom) available empty spot of the board. Once this change is made, the game proceeds as if the initial clicked square was empty. This is done to ensure that the player will not lose on their very first click. The first clicked square is always a zero (i.e. is not a mine and has no mines adjacent to it) in the Windows Vista version of the game.[citation needed] At this time it is not known if the Vista Minesweeper board is generated before or after the player first clicks a square in a new game.

However Windows Vista now has the ability to restart lost games, and save the progress of Windows Games like Minesweeper. Therefore it is possible to click on a mine in a restarted game, losing the game (with the option to restart again). This has also led to people taking screenshots of the lost game, restarting, and completing the grid with the lost game showing where all the mines are.

Vista also drops the cheat feature available in earlier versions, where typing 'xyzzy (shift-enter)' displays a dot in the upper-left corner of the screen, which goes white or black when the cursor is over unmined and mined squares respectively. [4]

If the user clicks both mouse buttons or the middle mouse button on a revealed square, and the correct number of mines have been flagged around the square, then the remaining surrounding squares are revealed. This offers no strategic advantage, but serves as a convenience to the player by reducing the time it takes to clear a board and removing the need to consider which squares around a revealed patch can safely be clicked individually. However, if a square is flagged in error and this feature is used, it can set off a mine and end the game. From Windows Vista onwards, the feature can also be accessed by double-clicking the square, and a red X in the clicked square and a sound effect indicate if the square is not surrounded by the correct number of flags.


In editions of Minesweeper that were released in XP 2000 and earlier Windows operating systems, the default color scheme for Minesweeper was a light shade of gray. When Vista was released, the theme underwent a large overhaul of appearance. The user can now select from two main color themes – blue and green – as well as choosing to replace mines with flowers. Flowers behave in the same way as mines, in that they "explode" when clicked. However, in place of the usual series of explosions, a calm melody sounds in the background.[1] The option to display flowers instead of mines was implemented as part of the Windows Vista makeover because the game was considered to be offensive in some parts of the world due to the inclusion of seamines.[5]


  1. ^ a b Posted by tablesaw on February 26, 2007 7:14 PM (2007-02-26). "Column from Tony "Tablesaw" Delgado about puzzle games". Gamesetwatch.com. http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2007/02/column_beyond_tetris_minesweep.php. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  2. ^ Cobbett, Richard. "The most successful game ever: a history of Minesweeper". Techradar.com. http://www.techradar.com/news/gaming/the-most-successful-game-ever-a-history-of-minesweeper-596504. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  3. ^ Board puzzles with algebra of binary variables.
  4. ^ Woody Leonhard. Windows Vista all-in-one desk reference for dummies. p. 342. ISBN 0471749419. http://books.google.ca/books?id=g42BKD_vyrQC&pg=PA342. 
  5. ^ Microsoft Shell Blog – The UI design minefield – er... flower field? at the Wayback Machine (archived January 19, 2008)

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