Do you ever play Solitaire on your computer? It’s a barometer of how bored you are, whether or not you’re willing to cave in and play Solitaire or Minesweeper, two programs that have been packaged with every Microsoft OS since forever.
With Windows 10, Microsoft’s new attempt to make tech bloggers hate them and further confuse their customer base with features no one asked for or has a reason to use, they’ve tossed in the curious little gem of pay-to-play Solitaire. In fairness, you don’t need to pay to play Solitaire, you just need to pay to play Premium Solitaire.
The difference between cheap ass Solitaire and Premium Solitaire is that, during the load screens in regular solitaire, you’re assaulted with video ads. If you pay $1.50, you can remove the ads, get extra coins that have no actual value, and get some kind of edge for playing various Solitaire iterations.
The idea of a micro-transaction in an app isn’t new of course, every app seems to do it these days – pay and download more characters, more bonus, more skills, whatever the hell for whatever game. But generally speaking those are all in apps you went out of your way to download. Solitaire is a part of the Windows 10 OS. No one asks to download it and, since it’s a part of the OS, it literally has no reason to have ads included in it in the first place. Why is this even a thing?
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Most apps are made by developers a little bit smaller than Microsoft and their revenue stream comes from people making these in-app purchases. The free versions are laced with ads to help offset the cost of someone not paying anything. The producers of the app and the host services get a cut of ad revenue. If Microsoft somehow using solitaire as a revenue stream now? Because that might be literally insane.
As PC World points out in their write up of this odd decision, Windows 10 itself is a free upgrade Microsoft is providing. Is the future of their business model just to give you “free” software and then charge you to remove ads from bits and pieces of it? Is Windows 11 going to have banner ads in Word and Excel? Is the Media Player going to have custom ads before you view your own personal videos? Can you expect part of the Windows 12 log in experience to include watching a video before you’re even allowed to type your password?
The fact this is packaged with Solitaire means something, simply because of how unlikely it is that people will use it. Who still plays Solitaire when you can play a million games online? And maybe that’s the point. This will be a small percentage of users and they can get easy to manage stats based on that small population. The kind of stats that will support or destroy this kind of experiment. So if 50 out of 100 people who play solitaire willingly spend that $2 to upgrade it or whatever is required, then maybe windows 11 will have Word with ads, or Outlook with ads, and maybe you can pay to opt out of those, too. Maybe the future of Windows is a bunch of loosely assembled apps dripping with ads that you can slowly pay to clean up. If that’s what you want. And maybe Apple will get more business, too. Who knows?