How can I play my old Windows 7 games in Windows 10?

Companies don’t charge for the games, but they charge to remove advertisements or to add extra features

I am missing the free games such as Chess Titans, Solitaire and a few more that Windows 10 doesn’t have. I tried to install Chess Titans from Windows 7 but it won’t let me. Are we likely to get it on 10 in the future? Veronica
The games have vanished. Where is my Solitaire? Oh, I can go to the Window Store and purchase a souped-up (ie ruined) Solitaire, but that costs money. For Solitaire? Crikey! Jim
Is there a safe way to restore the old versions of the games, which were much faster to load and – to my old eyes – clearer to see? I can find several suggested solutions on YouTube, but they all involve downloading zip files from unknown websites. Tony
Microsoft uses games partly for educational purposes: for example, Solitaire taught a generation to use the mouse to drag-and-drop. (There’s an excellent post about this by James Hunt.) With Windows 8 and 10, Microsoft moved the games to the Windows Store. This should have taught users to log on and download them.
These Microsoft games are still free, but they now include adverts. This is almost always the case with free store-based apps whether on Windows, Android or Apple’s iOS. Companies don’t charge for the games, but they charge to remove advertisements or to add extra features. That’s what happens when people don’t want to pay for content.

Bad moves

Having said all that, I don’t think this is a smart move on Microsoft’s part, for three reasons. First, introducing a new freemium game is not the same as taking a game that’s been free for decades and making it freemium. The basic free version should still be free and ad-free.
Third, the pricing for ad-free versions looks too high. In the UK, the Solitaire Collection costs £1.19 per month or £7.95 per year. The bundle includes five games so perhaps a one-off £7.95 would be acceptable, but I don’t think people who have been playing Solitaire free for 25 years really want to pay that much every year in perpetuity.Second, running a casual game like the Microsoft Solitaire Collection Premium Edition lumbers you with an Xbox Live gamertag. There’s nothing wrong with having a gamertag, and serious gamers love them, but they should be optional for casual gamers.


There are hundreds of alternatives in the Windows Store: a search for “solitaire” finds 730 apps, while “solitaire for desktop” finds 81. Why not try a few of those? There are also plenty of alternatives that you can download from other sites. For example, a web search for “minesweeper clone” finds Minesweeper X, one calledClone, and Andrew Lim’s Minez. They all look pretty much like the original.
There’s also no shortage of versions that you can play online in your web browser. Examples include World of SolitaireNet Solitaire and Minesweeper.js. Most casual gaming websites seem to have their own versions as well.
Chess Giants 2.4 by Pierre-Marie Baty is a desktop Windows program that looks a lot like Microsoft’s Chess Titans and may be an acceptable substitute. It’s shareware and costs $11.24 to register. SparkChess also looks attractive, and you can either play it online (free) or download a full version ($12.99). There are plenty of less-slick alternatives, too. These include Winboard, a free, open source chess program based on GnuChess.
Sorry to say, I can’t provide links to the best alternatives, because I haven’t played them. Perhaps readers can link to their favourites in the comments below.

Windows 7 games

People looked into how they worked, and it turned out that the files could be edited to make them run in later versions of Windows by changing one instruction in the code. A post at How-To Geek explains the details. Soon afterwards, files of pre-patched Windows 7 games were widely available for download.Windows 7 included a selection of casual games collected over the long history of Microsoft Windows … though, strangely, not all the ones from Windows Vista. Unfortunately, they were coded to run only in Windows 7.
As Tony says, this involves “downloading zip files from unknown websites,” which is inherently risky. However, following a popular link from a site like Winaero(Google’s top hit) should be less risky, and a good virus scanner should be able to detect any malware in the zip file. (You can always upload files to Virus Total, which will check them with dozens of anti-virus products.)
Another drawback is that it breaks the original license agreement. Presumably, Microsoft could sue people for running games that they got free with Windows 7 in their free upgrade to Windows 10. However, Microsoft has had several years to sue Windows 8 and 8.1 users for running Windows 7 games, and it hasn’t. And if it did sue Windows 10 users, it would be a PR disaster.
Some people simply moved the games from Windows XP to later versions of Windows. The XP games were not tied to a specific version of Windows, and they are very small. FreeCell, for example, is only 54K, and the cards.dll file – which is used by all the XP card games – is only 352K. I much prefer these card designs to the “souped-up” versions in the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, which weighs in at around 200 megabytes.
Either way, it doesn’t cost anything to try the free versions that Microsoft offers in the Windows Store, and this is no more objectionable than using the Google Play and Apple online stores. They all work the same way.
If you find the adverts in Microsoft’s games unbearable, my advice is to try some of the many clone versions available for download and for online play. You will probably find at least one where both the design and the amount of advertising and/or tracking are acceptable.


Readers who played Windows games in Windows 7 and Vista will also have used the very handy games folder, which seems to have disappeared from Windows 8 and 10. However, the code is still included in the operating system. To get the games folder back, go to the run box and type “shell:games” (without the quotes). When it appears, go to the taskbar, right-click the icon and pin the program to the taskbar. After that, you will be able to use it without typing the command every time.

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