The animated character tortured many a Microsoft Office user during its late-90s heyday, popping up uninvited to “help” write letters and other documents. Microsoft finally administered Clippy a well-earned coup de grâce in the mid-2000s, but not before it had evolved into a cultural laughingstock.
Like the nigh-invincible creature in a horror movie, though, Clippy is back from the dead… sorta. The next version of Office won’t feature an animated paperclip bounding around your screen, according to screenshots posted by The Verge, but it will feature a “Helper” in the form of a search bar where users can type questions and receive documentation in return.
“Tell me what you want to do…” that bar (accompanied by a little light bulb icon) will ask. While details are sketchy, it’s safe to presume the light bulb won’t do anything ridiculous, if only because Microsoft wants to avoid a fresh burst of “Clippy 2.0” headlines.
Back when Microsoft first released Clippy, Office was the dominant productivity software for consumers and businesses alike. With the rise of the cloud and alternative platforms such as Google Docs, Office faces more competition than ever. In a bid to stay relevant, Microsoft now pushes Office 365, its own cloud-based productivity suite—although with the company undergoing massive layoffs, it may need more than updates to its core products in order to stay healthy and relevant.
But at least that obnoxious cartoon paperclip isn’t coming back.
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