Microsoft's "Clippy" Makes A Comeback... Sort Of
May 2, 2011 10:17 AM
(Source: Getty Images)
Clippy appears in its own game, which aims to help users navigate Microsoft Office
The annoying -- I mean, animated -- paper clip that used to appear in Microsoft Office as an assistant in the late 90's to early 2000's is making a comeback after countless customers and even Microsoft employees contributed to its demise.
The Office Assistant was a tool that helped
users navigate the associated software by way of an animated character. In the English Windows version, the default character was a paperclip named Clippit, or Clippy for short. Clippy was designed by Kevan J. Atteberry, and was initially featured in Office 97.
As users worked in Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel, Clippy would randomly pop out of the corner making eerily cheerful and obvious statements, and then offering its help. For instance, a user would type the word "Dear" in Microsoft Word, and Clippy would say, "It looks like you're writing a letter. Would you like help?"
This did not go over well with many Microsoft users, and even Microsoft employees. Clippy was described as an annoying feature that hindered rather than helped document development.
even named Clippy "one of the worst software design blunders in the annals of computing."
As a result of such criticism, Bill Gates retired Clippy as a default feature in 2001. Microsoft employees even made an ad campaign saying they put him out of work. By 2007, Clippy was eliminated from Microsoft Office entirely.
dares to show its face
around Microsoft Office again in a new game. The game is called "Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy's Second Chance," and it is designed to help users learn how to navigate Microsoft Office.
The good news is that Clippy is sticking exclusively to the game, and will not appear out of the corner of Microsoft Office programs.
"Yes, we turned Office into a game!" said
in its description of the new game. "If you're going to spend time immersed in the inner workings of Office, by golly it should be fun. In Ribbon Hero 2, you'll hop on board Clippy's stolen time machine and explore different time periods. With each time period, you get to explore a new game board with challenges you must complete to get to the next level."
Criticism is already beginning to circulate, but not so much about the game itself. Rather, Microsoft's language in describing the new game has drawn such attention.
"Here is a question I wish I could answer," said James Fallows from
"Is this Microsoft tone genuinely corny-earnest, reflecting the kind of middle school pep rally sensibility that you can only imagine Apple hipsters sneering and snickering at (making you want to punch the hipsters) and Google engineers looking at in amazement? Or is it triple-backflip hipsterism itself, an Onionesque by-golly mockery of corniness? I suppose this is one of the enduring mysteries of life."
"Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy's Second Chance" can be downloaded for free
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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