Internet games that Microsoft distributed with its Windows 7 operating system throw the error code 0x80041004 right now when you try to play them.
Microsoft distributed local and Internet games with the company's Windows 7 operating system. Games came preinstalled or needed to be installed by the user before they became available.
The games Internet Backgammon, Internet Spades, and Internet Hearts are played against opponents on the Internet.
The games connect to a Microsoft Server when you run them which is used for matchmaking and management.
When you try to play one of the games above right now, error 0x80041004 is returned to you.
The Internet game displays status information when you run it. It begins with "connecting to the game server." The game tries to establish a connection to the game server. This process takes 10-or-so seconds and ends with an error notification.
A network error occurred while communication with the game server.
Error Code: 0x80041004
You can try again by clicking on "new opponent" or quit the game instead.
Internet games have two fundamental requirements: the user's PC needs to be connected to the Internet, and the game server needs to be online as well (if the game does not use direct connections).
A quick check with CurrPorts reveals the IP address the games try to reach when you start them. It is 18.104.22.168, a Microsoft IP address. It is possible that Microsoft uses multiple IP addresses for Windows 7 Internet games, but all should return the same error.
A simple ping returns a timeout, and so does a tracert. In other words: the game server that handles the matchmaking for Internet-based Windows 7 games is not reachable.
That's bad news for Windows 7 customers who like to play the affected Internet-based games as there is nothing that can be done about it on the user's side.
The incident is not the first time that Windows 7 game servers stopped working. Günther Born published an article about this in November 2015 (in German). Microsoft fixed the issue back then eventually.
Windows 7 is in the extended support phase which means that it is still supported by Microsoft. While it is clear that Microsoft focuses its efforts almost entirely on Windows 10, it does have an obligation to customers who run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 as well.
It is unclear whether Microsoft turned off the game server for good, if it works on the server to repair the issue, or whether it noticed the issue at all.
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