One of the most infamous figures from early Internet culture is about to return. On Thursday, Microsoft announced official plans to revive Clippy, the chipper cartoony paper clip virtual assistant who graced Microsoft products from 1997 to 2007. The mascot, who has risen to a state of online infamy for being a little too helpful, is set to be brought back into the Microsoft fold — but not in the way fans are expecting. The company will be replacing its standard paperclip emoji with an icon of Clippy, a decision the company previously teased on social media. According to CNN, Clippy will make his emoji debut later this year, and will be part of a refresh of 1,800 emojis across Microsoft products.
"When we looked at redesigning the paper clip, we thought, 'How could you not?" Claire Anderson, Microsoft's art director known internally as its emoji-ologist, told the publication. "It's a way of honoring where we've come from as we also look at a new tech style. .. But like most nostalgic things, we know Clippy can be polarizing."
This way, a whole new generation will soon learn more about the cartoony character, while the generation that grew up with him will probably be traumatized all over again.
"Clippy was one of those features that split users in a very passionate way," Office Group Program Manager Jensen Harris said in a 2007 interview with PCMag. "There were actually a set of people who did like Clippy, and were sad to see him go. Some of those were people who just like having an animated cat or dog on their desktop, and there were people who liked the interface as a way of getting help. There were also an equal number of people who looked at it as interference or an annoyance, and even though it was easy to turn off, represented something of a bad direction in interface design."
"He's cute, and he was emblematic of a phase of Offices past, which was very successful," Harris continued. "The Office Assistant was introduced in Office 97, which is the biggest and most successful version that we built of Office, up until Office 2007. They were both important milestones--highlight of the decade releases. From that perspective, it marks the end of a decade of having Clippy around. Although I think that social user interface wasn't ready for the mainstream yet, you have to appreciate the risk that was taken, in attempting to introduce it into the mainstream."
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