Iconic licensed art collection will be replaced with Bing search

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Office suite will give users access to a greater array of free, stock images by replacing the iconic Clip Art collection with Bing Image Search.  The change was announced this week by Microsoft in a blog.  Microsoft has already purged the Clip Art collection from, its online cloud apps.  The next client-side version of Office is expected to ditch the collection as well, saving space.

The Clip Art collection was introduced with Microsoft Word 6.0 in 1993 and today stood as a relic of sorts.  Back in the 1990s lack of reliable internet access was a reality for many Americans and it was much harder for the average user to find free images on the internet.  Microsoft's Clip Art solved these problems by giving Office users access to a collection of canned art, which it licensed free of charge to Office users.

Countless company presentations and book reports later, we arrive at the present.  Today Microsoft's Bing Image Search is a lauded and fast-growing way of finding images online.  And Microsoft has a rich array of online applications, tightly integrated with one another. users, for example, could grab images stored on a OneDrive or Sharepoint cloud storage account, or could upload images from your PC.


Microsoft Clip Art

Microsoft Bing Image search

But there's still some need for free, easy to access options for canned images (think vector graphics).  Microsoft realized, though, that by apply a Creative Commons filter (which identifies royalty free work), it could not only replace the aging Clip Art collection, but vastly expand the library of free images at users' fingertips.  No longer would Microsoft have to pay to curate its own art, now that users had an entire internet worth of free art at their disposal.

Microsoft manager Doug Thomas blogged on the change.  He warns users to carefully examine the sources of images to make sure Microsoft's Creative Commons filter hasn't somehow failed, mistaking a copyrighted work for a royalty free one.  He writes:

A link to the source of the image is provided, which you should use to review the source of the image and the applicable license to determine whether your use will comply with the license. (The settings can be switched to show all web results to view more images.)  However, you are responsible for respecting others’ rights, including copyright. Learn more here.

We're guessing most users won't bother to do that.  But Microsoft deserves points for phasing out a relic of its software collection for an internet age solution.  The obsolesence of the Clip Art collection follows the elimination of the (sort of) beloved 90s Office mascot "Clippy" in 2007.

Microsoft also cleaned another item out of the attic in March, finishing the shuttering its MSN Messenger service.  MSN Messenger once had 300 million users, but had fallen badly behind Facebook, Inc.'s (FB) Messenger and Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Chat.  With just a few million lingering users, Microsoft decided to move on, announcing that Skype would be filling in for MSN Messenger on newer platforms in April 2013.  
MSN messenger
MSN Messenger was shuttered in March. [Image Source: vida20]

Windows XP didn't have access to Skype, so MSN Messenger services for Windows XP users lived on until March of this year a month before Microsoft's planned termination support for the consumer SKU of Windows XP.  In addition to Skype, Microsoft also offers IM messaging capabilities via Live Messenger.  Three messaging clients was too many, Microsoft decided and MSN Messenger ended up on the chopping block.

Source: Microsoft Office Team [official blog]

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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