The Internet feels like it's evolving at an ever-growing rate, with a countless number of new memes and terms becoming part of popular culture. For those who were computer savvy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a certain mascot became part of that vernacular — the Microsoft office assistant Clippy. The mascot has raised to a level of infamy ever since its first unveiling, with its cartoony design and almost-too-helpful suggestions being fuel for an array of different jokes. While Clippy was technically phased out of Microsoft technology in 2007, a recent tweet from the tech giant promised (or threatened, depending on your outlook) to replace the paperclip emoji in their Microsoft 365 software with Clippy, if their tweet got 20,000 likes.
If this gets 20k likes, we’ll replace the paperclip emoji in Microsoft 365 with Clippy. pic.twitter.com/6T8ziboguC— Microsoft (@Microsoft) July 14, 2021
The tweet has already earned (at the time of this writing) over 100,000 likes, so it seems like it's a matter of time until the change is made. 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."
What do you think of Microsoft's planned return for Clippy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!