Microsoft Gives Digital Assistant ‘Clippy’ New Life

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Microsoft is bringing back “Clippy” as an emoji.

The software giant’s controversial digital assistant — which appeared on versions of Microsoft Office before 2003 — was deeply loathed by many users.

As CNET reported in 2002:

Microsoft is hoping to appeal to customers with a less-obtrusive, easier to use version of the suite. In Office XP, Microsoft plans to hide the Clippy character tool from view and help people in a less obtrusive manner.

“Not one person in my office, from the receptionist to the sales people to the engineers to the CEO use the blasted paper clip. Not even my wife, who is an elementary school teacher, uses it,” Ketan Deshpande, senior software engineer at Manage.com, wrote in an e-mail to News.com. “In less time than it took MS to put this Web site together, they could have pulled the dumb clip out of their software.”

Despite two decades of deep-seated contempt, Microsoft is granting Clippy another chance at life. The firm will replace its paperclip emoji with an image of the character.

“When we looked at redesigning the paper clip, we thought, ‘How could you not?’” Microsoft art director and “emojiologist” Claire Anderson told CNN Business. “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.”

In an announcement about Microsoft’s new emojis, Anderson wrote: “We had to use this opportunity to make a change that only we could truly make — so long flat, standard paperclip, and hello Clippy! Sure, we may use fewer paper clips today than we did in Clippy’s heyday, but we couldn’t resist the nostalgic pull.”

Microsoft hinted at the decision in a Wednesday tweet: “If this gets 20k likes, we’ll replace the paperclip emoji in Microsoft 365 with Clippy.”

As CNN reports, Microsoft is unveiling more updated emoticons:

It’s also adding five new emojis to capture the many moods and challenges of working from home: a “you’re on mute” emoji, an image of someone multitasking with their arms going everywhere, a “business on top and pajamas on bottom” emoji, someone with a cat in front of the screen and a person holding a baby.

Microsoft also conducted a study that found 57% of people believe emojis in the workplace are professional and help humanize conversations. Emojis are often used as tools to lighten or intensify tones, express playfulness or enhance expression.

Since COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession, Microsoft’s stock — currently trading at $281 per share — has been on a bull run. The company recently joined longtime competitor Apple as one of the first companies in the United States to surpass a $2 trillion market cap.

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