The Microsoft® Entertainment Pack for Windows™

The official name of these collections of recreational software (not necessarily only games) for Windows 3.0 was always Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows, not Windows Entertainment Pack. However, the latter seems to have been a common internal unofficial name, and WEP was the common abbreviation, as in filenames like WEPUTIL.DLL or ABOUTWEP.DLL. Here's the logo, which stayed the same through four releases in three years:

[Logo of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows]

Originally, Microsoft had not planned to do any licensing or support any development. The idea was just to collect any recreational programs the regular Microsoft programmers had done and wanted published. It didn't quite work out that way. Of course, the Microsoft programmers had done a lot of recreational programs, mostly games, but most of them were not polished enough for retail distribution, and some were clones of commercial games.

So in the end, there was quite some development and also some licensing going on, but these origins explain why there are cruder freeware versions of some of the games floating around.

The Releases

Note: Every release contained the screensaver program Idlewild and a few modules for it.

September 1990

This is the first release I could trace. The box had a sticker, now includes Tetris for Windows, which would imply that there was a previous release without Tetris, but I could find out nothing about that.

September 1991

Volume 2

Volume 3

September 1992

Volume 4

This last volume was published after the release of Windows 3.1 with its new multimedia capabilities, so some of the game have sound effects or even background music. It was also the first to be released after Visual Basic, thus it installs a lot of runtime libraries, which the previous volumes did not do.

This was the last original release in this series. In 1994, there was the Best of anthology, which contained 13 games. In 1997, there was Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection, which had very little to do with the original WEP series and was more like the Russian 6 Pak (it said with games by the creator of Tetris on the box).

Microsoft's next game release after volume 4 was Microsoft Arcade.

Notes to Some Games

Tetris

Dave Edson's Tetris got bitmap backgrounds and 3D look on the blocks, otherwise I found no differences to his original version.

Taipei

Dave Norris' Taipei dates back to 1987, the first version was still designed for Windows 1.0. A quick fix in 1990 got the number 3.00, according to a Microsoft tradition to give a program the number of the Windows version it is distributed with or will run under. There is no Taipei 2.00 or similar. Indeed, version 3.00 still shows 1.02 in the about screen. The first polished version for Windows 3.0 was Taipei 3.10.

4.00 added a selection of layouts and was generally brought up to Windows 3.0 standards: non-resizable window, exit in the file menu. The icon was slightly changed. Dave Norris later added the option to display bitmap backgrounds, and released it (with the old icon) as shareware as Taipei 5.00.

Minesweeper

Minesweeper was originally written for OS/2 under the simple name Mine or PM Mine (PM for Presentation Manager, which was the name of OS/2's GUI). Its main author was Curt Johnson, and it had the Bogus Software copyright notice most Microsoft programmers put on their recreational software in the 80s. It was finished in May 1990 and looks very much like the WEP version, except that the gray border is missing, the window is exactly the size of the minefield.

Bob Donner then ported it to Windows with some changes. There are two versions 2.6 which show a green border and a foot as the cursor (the difference between the two versions is the size of the foot), not a good solution since it's hard to tell whether the toes or the heel are the business end of the cursor. Bob Donner used a Duff Software copyright notice instead.

Version 2.8 already has the gray 3D bar, but no menu bar, the configuration is done from the about screen which is accessed Windows 2 style from the [-] button. Version 2.9 is more or less equivalent to the version 3.0 in the WEP. The name was still WinMine, Minesweeper was probably invented by the marketing department, who also renamed Chris Pirih's WinSki to SkiFree.

Links

Historical Information

Homepages

Blog Entries

Please support this site
Last modified 2013-04-13