Why Chrome OS Needs Solitaire and Freecell

By  |  Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 5:35 pm

To get a sense of how Chrome OS is coming along, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler checked in on the Google Code page for Chromium OS, the development version of Google’s budding operating system. He found a bunch of recent changes, like a cleaner interface, a description of the boot process and a debate over the treatment of ZIP files.

But what I want to focus on is gaming. To quote Siegler:

A big issue Google has been thinking about for a long time is “addictive” offline games that people can play with Chrome OS machines. Initial ideas included: Solitaire, Poker, Tower Defense, Color flood game, Minesweeper-style, Suduko, Bejewled-style. … Work continues on this.

Peering into the conversation thread for games, it’s not clear how quickly the initiative is moving along, but I’m struck by how Google would benefit from these kinds of offline games in the finished version of Chrome OS.

Casual games such as Solitaire aren’t the most glorious computing tasks imaginable — actually, they can be downright detrimental — but they are an important part of the PC experience. In 2005, the triumvirate of Spider Solitaire, Klondike and Freecell were reported to account for half of all game-playing time. As VentureBeat pointed out in 2007, more than 400 million people had played Solitaire on Windows PCs, an I’m sure the number has ballooned since then.

But why would Chrome OS, essentially a portal to the Web, need offline versions of these games when there’s no shortage of online gaming portals? Because it’s the dead-simple, anywhere access that makes Windows Solitaire so alluring. Something similar for Chrome OS would be a beacon of familiarity in an unfamiliar environment. Want people to feel at home in a new operating system? Let them play Solitaire.



3 Comments For This Post

  1. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    I think you’re forgetting that HTML5 Web apps *are* local apps. They’re not online apps, they’re local apps with optional online components. You install them by going to a Web link, then the contents of the manifest are all downloaded and an app icon is created in the system’s launcher. The network is only used if it is available, and then only to update local components or provide real-time data. The app itself is always running from your local storage. Compared to an HTML4 app, you’re sort of transplanting the app from the server to the client before you run it. If the network goes away, the app keeps running.

    So if you move from a Windows system to a Chrome system, your Solitaire game will move from the Win32 API to the HTML5 API, but it will still run locally, it’s just as available as before.

    You can see this in action on iOS today, and for quite some time now. Go to http://mrgan.com/pieguy/ on your iOS device to install Pie Guy, then put your device in Airplane Mode and tap the Pie Guy icon on your home screen to enjoy a game of Pie Guy in HTML5 with no network access. Of course, it could just as easily be any other game, like Solitaire or whatever. There are many, many card games on the Web. Some already run locally, and the rest are only an update away from running locally.

    With HTML5 apps, it’s not that you’re apps run in the cloud, it’s actually your app *installers* that run in the cloud. The apps themselves run locally. The Web becomes an HTML5 app store.

  2. pooja0908 Says:

    In which way chrome is most useful? I do not use chrome coz i did not get the use or you can say its function.

  3. David Hamilton Says:

    Back in the early 90s, we developed a market price display application on Windows 3.0, leasing the pre-configured PC to the traders. For most of them, this was their first exposure to Windows…

    One of our engineers got a support call. The customer complained that one of the cards on solitaire was wrong and could we fix it. Apparently the 7 of Spades (IIRC) had one of the spades the wrong way up!

    I think that the games were probably the most used part of many trader’s desktops, and certainly a key part of Windows’ rapid adoption.