Banish the tedium of setting up Windows with a built-in while-you-wait retro game, courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft Surf game during Windows installation
(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you're picking up a new Microsoft Surface laptop, you could now indulge in a bit of retro gaming while waiting for Windows to finish crawling through the interminable setup and updates process. Here's hoping it comes to the DIY Windows installation, too. It will certainly be something to do while setting up a new office test rig.

As spotted by The Verge, Microsoft has seemingly added a cute game to the setup procedure in Windows 11. Not content with showing you endless screens about how much better your life will be with the operating system, it now seems you can just ignore it all and aim for a high score instead.

The game in question has actually been around in the Edge browser since 2020. Just type edge://surf into the address bar and away you go. For me, it brought back memories of Horace Goes Skiing on the Sinclair Spectrum, though less ancient folks might think it's more akin to SkiFree (part of Microsoft's Entertainment Pack 3, released for Windows 3.0 in 1991).

Surf is surprisingly good fun, though. Sure it's just an endless scrolling dodge-the-obstacle game, but the animations are ridiculously cute, and it supports keyboard, mouse, touchscreens, and even gamepads for the controls. The browser version has three different play modes too, but it's not clear if the Windows installation one offers the same.

Mini-games hidden in software, or even other games, isn't something new, of course. When Namco ported its Ridge Racer arcade game to the original PlayStation, it popped Galaxian into the loading screens, allowing you to blast away a few aliens while the console got everything ready.

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What's not clear at the moment is whether Surf is now part of every new Windows 11 installation. It may well just be for Microsoft's own PCs but there's no reason why it couldn't add it in retrospectively, as part of a general update, so when you do your next OS reinstallation you can do a spot of surfing. Maybe that's something else Rufus will be able to do, as well as nixing the need for a Microsoft account, or TPM 2.0.

It wasn't that long ago when Windows had loads of games in it to keep you entertained (i.e. totally distracted from your work) but since Windows 7, they've all been pretty much stripped out. Hopefully, the inclusion of Surf in the setup process is a sign that Microsoft has seen the error of its ways and more are on their way.

Can I have Minesweeper back, at the very least?

Nick Evanson
Hardware Writer

Nick, gaming, and computers all first met in 1981, with the love affair starting on a Sinclair ZX81 in kit form and a book on ZX Basic. He ended up becoming a physics and IT teacher, but by the late 1990s decided it was time to cut his teeth writing for a long defunct UK tech site. He went on to do the same at Madonion, helping to write the help files for 3DMark and PCMark. After a short stint working at, Nick joined Futuremark (MadOnion rebranded) full-time, as editor-in-chief for its gaming and hardware section, YouGamers. After the site shutdown, he became an engineering and computing lecturer for many years, but missed the writing bug. Cue four years at and over 100 long articles on anything and everything. He freely admits to being far too obsessed with GPUs and open world grindy RPGs, but who isn't these days?