Xbox Games Windows 8 app updated, along with Mahjong and Minesweeper [Update]

The flood of Windows 8 app update from Microsoft that started on Monday night continues. The company has now pushed out a new update for its Xbox Games app portal, which lets users download and play Modern app-based games from a single hub.

The patch notes on the Windows Store site don't reveal too much about what's been updated in this new version. The only major new feature that's specifically mentioned is the addition of game alerts. This lets Xbox Games players know when they have been invited to play a particular game by their friends and also alerts those players when its their turn. The release notes also state that it included some unspecified "various performance enhancements and feature updates."

We mentioned on Monday night that Microsoft had updated its free Solitaire game with some new features. The company has also pushed out new updates for two more free casual games, Mahjong and Minesweeper. Like the new update for Solitaire, the new versions of Mahjong and Minesweeper now include an in-app payment option that eliminates the banner ads inside the games, along with enabling some extra challenges and content for each game. The charge is $1.49 a month for each game or $9.99 for a year.

Update: The Major Nelson website has updated with some more information on the new version of Xbox Games:

The home screen of the updated Xbox Games app will now display the last game you played within the past seven days. We’re also providing faster and smoother access to related downloadable content for that game to further personalize your gameplay and your Avatar. Game trailers and screenshots are also more easily discoverable inside the refreshed app. We’ve added some enhanced communication features inside the app too, like the ability to send and receive text messages between Xbox LIVE friends and toast notification similar to those you receive today on Xbox 360.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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19 Comments

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I respect that people may have a different opinion than I do regarding the decision to offer a pay version of solitaire or think that it's reasonable for Microsoft to include advertising for a "free" version of an app in their store. And if I think it's a bad direction for Microsoft to do this, I don't know why saying that is considered "whining". I paid for Windows 8 so I think it's fair that I can state an opinion on the operating system and applications that run on it. I can also express that opinion without demeaning anyone else for having a different point of view.

Apparently that's NOT the case for some of the people who post comments. For those who might be interested, the ads also appear after you play solo games (I've never played any "daily challenges") and I'm not opposed to people making money. I pay for software I use and if there's a free alternative I think it's reasonable to consider those programs as well. Telling someone to "grow up" or "stop whining" seems to be rather lame method of expressing a contrary thought.

meh, why would I pay for a solitaire game when there are plenty free ones out there...or ones where you only pay once. Sucks that W8 makes you pay per year. I have had the same version of solitaire on my phone/tablet for years now with only paying once.

Wow, after the backlash over your ill-conceived FM radio comment in the WP8 news article, it seems you still don't quite get it at all.

Nobody has said it's pay to play, but it sucks that your comprehension skills seem to have drawn you to that conclusion. It's still free to play, but it now provides the ability to pay a very small amount to have the ads removed from the games, which for the most part are only visible when you're playing the daily challenges anyway; the core solo games are still...free, without ads!

Wow, after the backlash over your ill-conceived FM radio comment in the WP8 news article, it seems you still don't quite get it at all.

Backlash was because people was not taking it as my opinion/preference/what I use.

Ideas Man said,
Nobody has said it's pay to play, but it sucks that your comprehension skills seem to have drawn you to that conclusion.;

And this is what is wrong with Neowin and other forums. Cannot reply without insulting? Then thats all I have to say.

Have a good day.

This is worse than pitiful - it's another attempt by Microsoft to bring some of the joys of console gaming to the desktop. You could play solitaire in prior versions of Windows for nothing. Now they want you to subscribe for a yearly basis - and you can't even reset your stats (which you've been able to do for years in the older version of solitaire...)

I've been fairly positive about the introduction of Windows 8 and have defended it on several sites. But the need for all of the advertising is getting out of hand. I complained to Microsoft about the addition of ads in the Skype desktop app (which will replace Microsoft Messenger next month) and was told by their customer service personnel:

"Occasionally, you may see advertisements for other companies in Skype. These advertisements will not disrupt your Skype experience in any way."

Obviously, since I was complaining about the advertising I think my "experience" is being disrupted...

Microsoft has been making some strange decisions during the past few months and despite comments from people like Paul Thurrott that subscribing to Office 2013 should be a "no-brainer" for most people and users shouldn't look to add 3rd party start menu replacements to their Win 8 systems, I have a LOT of reasons to think these changes aren't the best for the "average" user...

WHAT??!??!!! You cannot reset your stats? This is unbelievable! I cannot believe that they would have the gall to release a product that you cannot reset your stats for! Forget cancer, forget world hunger, forget failing economies, this should be the main priority for world governments to fix. It is absolutely incredible that they would not allow you to do this! I mean Microsoft has forced me to pay a tax by forcing me to upgrade every 12 years when they drop support for their OS like they did for XP - that was excusable. Bill Gates obviously eats puppies, kittens and unicorns and then feeds the bones to Ballmer to pick clean, and I can live with that. But not allowing you to reset your stats? I need to find a bridge that I can jump off of because this is just too much to cope with. Humanity will be in disarray because of this, wars, riots in the streets, torching of cities will happen. And it all could have been avoided if Microsoft had just included resetting your stats in Solitaire. May God have mercy upon us for letting Microsoft survive as a company this long, knowing that they could one day release Solitaire without resetting your stats! When news of this gets out, their stock will plunge, there will be mass firings in the games/Win8 division for letting this miserable abomination free upon the human race.

I guess you're making a joke, so I won't comment about your reply - I just think that Microsoft is making a poor decision by trying to charge users for "premium" versions of their apps that don't contain advertisements. It's one thing to see this in the app store for an Android or iPad/iPod application but it seems that Microsoft is trying to make things worse for their Windows users.

GraveDigger27 said,
It's one thing to see this in the app store for an Android or iPad/iPod application but it seems that Microsoft is trying to make things worse for their Windows users.

Translation: Apple/Google are allowed to charge/advertise because they need to make their money, but Microsoft (even though both the other companies have a higher market cap and Apple makes more per year and has more in the bank than Microsoft) already has too much money so they should not be allowed to do this, they should have to give everything away for free. And especially since they did not offer resetting stats, that was just the final straw.

GraveDigger27 said,
This is worse than pitiful - it's another attempt by Microsoft to bring some of the joys of console gaming to the desktop. You could play solitaire in prior versions of Windows for nothing. Now they want you to subscribe for a yearly basis...

Oh for god's sake, grow up and get a clue. You can still play the games for free; nobody is forcing you to pay a subscription to play them. They've offered you more card games than the previous versions of Windows included, added new modes and competitive features to it (Achievements, daily challenges, etc.) and some things that require servers to host and manage.

These servers cost money, it needs to be recouped somehow, so they include advertising. The advertising is annoying, but it's one way to keep it free. A lot of people have complained (As I did) and were prepared to pay a bit to keep the advertising out of it, so they're now offering this option if you so choose to. It's not mandatory to subscribe to play them, and I've never encountered an ad for solo single player games, only the daily challenges (Though I have heard of it, but not to the same degree as the daily challenges).

The games are a fair bit better than their predecessors, they do a lot more, and they now provide the option for you to have an uninterrupted session with some small bonuses (Extra coins for challenges, special abilities in some games) for a very nominal optional fee, and yet, still whinging!

I'm starting to feel sorry for Microsoft. This is kind of pitiful. We're talking about Microsoft here.

I'll pay $1.49 a month for access to all XBLA games to play on my Windows 8 Desktop or Surface RT.

To play solitaire, minesweeper? OK, $1.49 a month for the Start Menu back, lol. I'll do that. smh.

I don't mind paying, but this is kind of pitiful on Microsoft's part. I'm sure it's just me, but this just looks bad. Bad form.

ShareShiz said,
$1.49 a month for Solitaire ???

I can go buy a stack of cards for 99cents.

A bunch of people whined and complained about the ads which were paying for upkeep of the servers, etc. So they give you the option of removing the ads for a small fee, and people whine and complain. I guess people need something to complain about.

You can still play for free. Everyone always says, give me an ad-free version that I pay for, so here you go. Pick your choice and stop whining.