First it was Minesweeper, in Windows 3.x days. Often unstable and not very good at multi-tasking, the operating system nevertheless came with the ultimate addictive simple game that could easily get the user distracted while waiting for some CPU intensive task to complete– such as opening a word document in the good old days. (This blogger even wrote an Amiga port of the game, so he could play on his primary machine.)
XP had Solitaire. Vista ups the ante with a simple chess program called Chess Titan. It is not exactly a tribute to AI or likely to defeat Kasparov, but the game is perfect for short 5-10 minute runs of speed chess. The application responds quickly in a matter of seconds, even at the higher levels, on a relatively middle of the road PC rated 4.2 on the Vista experience index. At the low levels (adjustable 1-10 scale) it plays like a coffeehouse player, with no sense of theory or opening book. In the upper range it shows better grasp of standard chess but has a penchant for unusual opening lines. When playing black it appears to avoid King’s opening at all costs, preferring the Sicilian, French defense, obscure gambits, anything but a standard e4-e5 exchange.
2D view, in wood and black/gold pieces. This blogger has white, and the computer is just about to get 0wned after Bf4.
3D view, looks decent but not great for actually seeing board position well.