Microsoft’s most loved and hated product is back

Image: Matthias Balk/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Clippy is back. Again.

The world’s most infamous paper clip is back in the form of a Chrome extension called Clippy Everywhere! Once installed and activated, the extension creates (or, more accurately, recreates) Clippy’s creepy/cute animate antics every time you visit a web page. It asks you with those weird eyes, “Hi I’m Clippy! I’m the browser assistant and my job is to help you navigate this page. Do you need assistance?” 

 Its usefulness, or rather its lack thereof, ends there. Unlike the Microsoft version, which actually did provide assistance when asked (not that we ever did), the only other thing this Clippy can do is stare at you with those creepy eyes. Occasionally I saw it dart its eyes over the yellow paper, and just about five seconds ago it appeared to have turned itself into a… hole-puncher? a stapler? a frog? You be the judge:

What the hell is this? Clippy's long-lost brother?

What the hell is this? Clippy’s long-lost brother?

I must admit, its uselessness is what makes this extension a little endearing and not a big nuisance. Remember when Clippy used to ask you if you needed help writing letters because you typed in “Dear X?” And if you were curious enough to see what would happen if you did, it took way longer for Clippy to “assist” you than for you to figure it out yourself. During the time of writing this article, I fluctuated between being irritated and remembering my Windows days with a oddly fond sense of nostalgia.

Microsoft didn’t create the extension; a third-party developer with the handle “yoman821” began offering it in the Chrome store this week.

Not many pieces of software can match Clippy’s ability to inflame passions. Even Tay, Microsoft’s offensive chatbot, which everyone just kind of laughed off and quickly forgot about, doesn’t have nearly the number of haters as Clippy. The animated paper clip remains so entrenched in people’s minds that they feared its return when Microsoft bought LinkedIn or mourned its demise when it became clear Clippy was never coming back. 

At least that’s what Microsoft thought. We’ll see if the lawyers get involved, but for now, even Microsoft can’t stop developers from recreating the most loved/hated office assistant of all time. 



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