Clippy’s Second Chance

He’s back! If you remember “Clippy” — that googly-eyed, annoying little paper clip that once hopped out of the corner of your computer screen to “help” with Microsoft Office tasks, occasionally tapping on your computer screen to get your attention — chances are you don’t remember him (it?) fondly. Smithsonian Magazine called Clippy one of the worst software design blunders in the annals of computing history. Many Office users cringed when the cartoon paper clip delivered painfully obvious messages like: “It looks like you’re writing a letter.” Like you didn’t already know you were writing a letter?

 Well, like it or not, Clippy is back. But there’s good news: You don’t have to deal with him if you don’t want to.

 After killing off the cartoon paper clip, Microsoft decided to revive him (I guess it’s a him?) in limited fashion as part of a learn-how-to-use-Office game called “Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy’s Second Chance.” The game is just something you download to get better at using Office, if you want him to. Clippy takes people through challenges in this game, but he doesn’t show up automatically in Word, PowerPoint or Microsoft’s other Office apps.

Part of the reason Office users got so annoyed at the paper clip in the past was that he would appear unexpectedly when they were trying to work. (And, really, who can work when a paper clip with eyes is staring at them?)

Microsoft’s description of “Ribbon Hero 2” is stirring chatter online: “Yes, we turned Office into a game! If you’re going to spend time immersed in the inner workings of Office, by golly it should be fun.  “In Ribbon Hero 2, you’ll hop on board Clippy’s stolen time machine and explore different time periods. With each time period, you get to explore a new game board with challenges you must complete to get to the next level.” 

“For those of you who have been paying attention, we’ve done this before. That’s how we got the “2” on the end of the title. So what’s different? *deep breath* Clippy, comic strips, colorful graphics, surprise animations, multiple levels, time travel, upside-down Clippy, space ships, Greek Gods, bow-and-arrow battles, and a ton of useful Office features.”

Need more convincing? Get a sneak peek of Ribbon Hero 2 in this video

Clippy was a default part of early versions of Microsoft Office, starting with Office 97. In 2001, the company stopped having the cartoon show up by default in its software. Microsoft even created an ad campaign making fun of the paper clip, saying they were putting him out of work. By 2007, the company had eliminated Clippy entirely which made me very happy.

You can download the Office add-in here:

Now that he’s back, what do you think of his return?

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