Microsoft brings back Clippy
Would you like help with that?” If that phrase, combined with a cartoon paperclip with shiny eyes and gravity-defying eyebrows, makes you shiver, you’re not alone. Microsoft’s “virtual assistant” Clippy was universally hated from the moment he first jumped onto our screens. Shortly after making its debut in the Windows 97 version of Microsoft Office, users rushed to complain about the condescending, annoying pop-up with supposedly helpful tips on how to use apps and features.
User anger was so strong that the company killed poor Clippy by the time Microsoft XP was released in 2001. We thought we’d seen the last of him – and so was Microsoft, who told the tech site The edge just two years ago, they had no plans to revive the quirky clip.
But in a dramatic turnaround, Microsoft has announced Clippy is back, with the release of an official Clippy-themed background for Teams calls.
He is the star of one of four nostalgic wallpapers that users can select as their Teams wallpaper. In the new image, Clippy has had a glossy 3D makeover, mischievously atop a notepaper waterfall — perhaps to remind us of the chaos he once caused.
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The set of retro wallpapers was created by the designers at Microsoft to add some excitement to remote work and video calls, because “a little trip down memory lane can be good for the soul”.
The other three images are similar throwbacks. The classic time-consuming card game Solitaire, which has been one of the most played video games of all time since its release in 1990, has been recreated in 3D. A tribute to the old-fashioned creative app Microsoft Paint shows a brush escaping to smear paint across the virtual walls.
Perhaps the best is the recreation of the Windows XP default wallpaper, which shows gently rolling hills and a clear blue sky. The new version contains some little dandelions – perfect for calming the nerves during stressful meetings.
Microsoft unveiled the new designs last week, saying, “Whether you love or hate Clippy, it’s hard not to smile — just admit it — when you see it popping up in a meme somewhere.
“We like to think that Clippy, OG’s true virtual assistant, was a little ahead of its time. No, Clippy isn’t part of Microsoft 365, but either way, we can only hope that this high-definition portrait of it as your next Teams wallpaper will bring some vibrancy to your next meeting. It’s okay, Clippy is in on the joke.”
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