I See You’re Writing an Article…

I See You’re Writing an Article…

Sometimes, major consumer products companies really do dumb things. Think “Edsel.” “New Coke.” “Jar Jar Binks.” And when they see their mistake, they usually dump the product, go back to the previous version, and generally atone for their sin. Microsoft didn’t. They introduced Clippy, the Office Assistant, in Office ’97, and when people complained, they buried him so deeply in the next version of Office it took real, dedicated hacking to eliminate his sorry, chrome-plated butt.

Well, six years have gone by, another bloated upgrade is scheduled, and Microsoft has seen the error of its ways. Perhaps it was the bloody demonstrations in Redmond. Perhaps it was the vilification by Fritz Hollingsworth on C-SPAN. Maybe it was the surgical strikes by the Air Force with 2000-pound, laser-guided bombs. But, they’ve finally killed the little bugger, and to commemorate the event they’ve created on of the funniest corporate Web sites I’ve seen in years. Clippy is now gone from the new XP Office (“Ex-Paperclip,” they claim), and his swan song is celebrated on the actual Microsoft Web site.

Now, you can’t click to it from the front page as far as I can tell, but if you visit http://www.microsoft.com/office/clippy/ , you’re in. It’s filled with the acid wit that should have been applied to Clippy back in 1996. Of particular note are three Shockwave animations covering the Gotterdamerung of his career. I particularity liked watching him drown his sorrows in a dive bar, throwing beer through his wiry frame, only to be accosted by the ominous Mr. X-Box. You can take the “What should Clippy do next?” poll, see a new product demo (bor-ring), and listen to his song. Well, I couldn’t, it’s in some weird Microsoft file format and all my media players are mad at one another and no one will play music on my computer anymore.

Gilbert Gottfreid is Clippy’s voice, a brilliant choice in my opinion, and there is even a threat of a new character, the Cranky Office Lady. Had this silliness launched him way back when, he might have become a cult figure instead of the sorry animated spokesclip he is today.

Will Clippy stay gone? Probably. I was always disappointed no one ever hacked him and had him do terrible things, but that seemed like a big job that might end up in a lawsuit. His ghost lives on in the new office, with the introduction of “Smart Tags.” You’ll find out about those soon enough, but for now, chant along with me: DIE, CLIPPY DIE! DIE, CLIPPY DIE! DIE, CLIPPY DIE!

You little bastard.

http://www.microsoft.com/office/clippy/

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