Microsoft’s “Office Assistant,” commonly known as Clippy, was a talking paperclip with googly eyes that nobody liked. We recently cited its debut appearance in Office 97 as one of the most famous times that Windows sucked, saying that it was often wrong and always irritating. Clippy was so unpopular that even Microsoft itself joined in with the hate, in the form of a series of Office XP ads in 2003 celebrating Clippy’s demise. (You can see them on YouTube if you don’t want to horse around with archives and Flash animations.) In 2007, Clippy was excised from Microsoft Office completely.
The funny thing about the passage of time is that it can make things that objectively sucked seem not so bad in hindsight. For instance, I somehow have fond memories of waking up at 5 am so I could dress in a sticky rain suit and pick tobacco from sodden fields as a teenager; and in a similar vein, Clippy appears to be enjoying a nostalgia-powered uptick in popularity. Microsoft recently released some blast-from-the-past backgrounds for Microsoft Teams that included a loving portrait of the mascot, and now it’s threatening to bring its jaunty anthropomorphised stationary back for real.