Turns out Microsoft decided when updating Minesweeper to a sweet new look for Windows Vista, that now would be a good time to address the fact that land mines are very, very bad.
Many countries still have land mines, and people die and are horribly maimed on a daily basis, which results in the occasional complaint about Minesweeper, a fairly simple, old game. Microsoft figured that while it was redoing Minesweeper, it could design a version of Minesweeper that didn’t have mines. So, they made it so that Minesweeper can now have mines, or flowers. No one really knows why you are sweeping the field, but don’t like flowers, but it seemed like a safe change.
The fact is, you try to give a little, and this is what happened: They had to deal with changing the name of the game, the defaults in “mine-sensitive” areas, the text in the help file, using the word “explode”, removing the game altogether, and a million other things.
Just when these their way through the system, another issue arose. It turns out that some countries were taking this even more seriously than we had initially considered. Merely changing the default was not sufficient – they didn’t even want to have the *option* to switch to mines! This is really a large ask so late in the project. We would basically have to rewrite the game as well as the deployment logic. It was really too late for such a change, so we suggested that if mines were completely unacceptable than those countries should probably just remove minesweeper all together. So the various legal and geopolitics and localization people went off to discuss that one – whether it would be acceptabled, and if so which countries should pull it.
God only knows how this saga will end. Will Vista ship in some countries with the “Microsoft Windows Vista Logic-based Hidden Item Seeking Game 2006 with Skins!”? Even the Vista UI blog has no idea. The good news: Minesweeper has some sort of skinning functionality, and that means someone is going to change what the mines look like. Maybe they can follow one of the original ideas for changing the mines to something less politically offensive: Dog poo.