The Office Assistant was an Intelligent User Interface for Microsoft Office that assisted users by way of an interactive animated character, which interfaced with the Office help content. It used technology[clarification needed] initially from Microsoft Bob and later Microsoft Agent, offering advice based on Bayesian algorithms. In Microsoft Office for Windows, it was included in versions 97 to 2003 and in Microsoft Publisher, it was included in versions 98 to 2003. In Microsoft Office for Mac, it was included in versions 98 to 2004. The default assistant in the English Windows version was named Clippy, after a paperclip. The character was designed by Kevan J. Atteberry. Usually Clippy taps the screen on first appearing.
The feature drew a strongly negative response from many users. Microsoft turned off the feature by default and removed the Genius assistant in Office XP, acknowledging its unpopularity in an ad campaign spoofing Clippy. The feature was removed altogether in Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, as it drew criticism from customers and even Microsoft employees.
Office Assistant was codenamed TFC during development, and was enabled by default in early Microsoft Office versions. It popped up when the program determined the user could be assisted with using Office wizards, searching help, or advising users on using Office features more effectively. It presented tips and keyboard shortcuts. For example, typing an address followed by "Dear" would cause Clippy to pop up and say, "It looks like you're writing a letter. Would you like help?"
Other Office assistants were available, such as The Dot (a shape-shifting and colour-shifting smiley-faced red ball), Hoverbot (a robot), The Genius (a caricature of Albert Einstein), Office Logo (a jigsaw puzzle), Mother Nature (a globe), Scribble (an origami-esque cat), Power Pup (a superhero dog) and Will (a caricature of William Shakespeare). In later versions of Microsoft Office for Windows, the Hoverbot, Scribble and Power Pup assistants were replaced by F1, Links and Rocky (a robot, a cat and a dog respectively). Clippy and the Office Logo were also included, but in a different form. In many cases the Office installation CD was necessary to activate a different Office assistant character, so the default character, Clippy, remains widely known. An assistant named Max, in the shape of a 1986 Macintosh Plus, served as the default on Mac versions of Office.
The Microsoft Office XP Multilingual Pack had two more assistants, Saeko Sensei (????) (an animated secretary) and a version of Monkey King (???) for Asian language users in non-Asian Office versions. Native language versions provided additional representations such as Kairu the dolphin, in Japanese. Clippy inspired parody software such as Vigor, a version of the vi text editor with a paperclip.
During 2012, user "Grant Bogart" (Owner of Clippy Development) published Clippy's YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts and were comfirmed official. The accounts are still current today, and are still being updated by Grant Bogart.
Additional assistants 
- Dot (a shape-shifting and color-shifting smiley-faced red ball)
- Hoverbot (a robot)
- Genius (a caricature of Albert Einstein)
- Office Logo (a jigsaw puzzle)
- Mother Nature (a globe)
- Scribble (an origami-esque cat)
- Power Pup (a superhero dog)
- Will (a caricature of William Shakespeare)
- Bosgrove (a butler)
- Genie (a genie)
- Kairu the Dolphin (available for East Asian editions, downloadable for Office 97)
- Max (a Macintosh Plus computer) (Macintosh)
- Merlin (a wizard)
- Peedy (a green parrot)
- Robby (a robot)
The 1997 assistants can be downloaded from the Microsoft website.
Later versions 
Starting in Office 2000, Microsoft Agent (ACS) replaced the Microsoft Bob-descended Actor (ACT) format as the technology supporting the feature. Users can add other assistants to the folder where Office is installed for them to show up in the Office application. Microsoft Agent-based characters have richer forms and colors, and are not enclosed within a boxed window.
As of Office 2007/2008, Microsoft replaced the Office assistant with a new online help system.
In Ribbon Hero 2 
After featuring Clippy's tomb in a movie to promote Office 2010, the character was relaunched as the main character of the game Ribbon Hero 2, which is an interactive tutorial released by Microsoft in 2011. In the game, Clippy needs a new job and accidentally goes inside a time machine, travelling to different ages solving problems with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Onenote. Other Office Assistant names are also featured during the "Future Age" as planets of the future solar system.
Criticism and parodies 
The program was widely reviled among users as intrusive and annoying, and was criticized even within Microsoft. Microsoft's internal codename TFC had a derogatory origin: Steven Sinofsky states that "C" stood for "clown", while allowing his readers to guess what "TF" might stand for. Smithsonian Magazine called Clippy "one of the worst software design blunders in the annals of computing".
In July 2000, the online comic strip User Friendly ran a series of panels featuring Clippy. In 2001, a Microsoft advertising campaign for Office XP included the (now defunct) website officeclippy.com, which highlighted the disabling of Clippy in the software. It featured the animated adventures of Clippy (voiced by comedian Gilbert Gottfried, in his trademark annoying voice) as he learned to cope with unemployment ("X… XP… As in, ex-paperclip?!") and parodied behaviors of the Office assistant. Curiously, one of these ("Clippy Faces Facts") uses the same punchline as one of the User Friendly comic strips. These videos can be downloaded at the Internet Archive. Clippy ends up in an office as a floppy disk ejecting pin for Macintosh Computers.
There is a Clippy parody in the Plus! Dancer application included in Microsoft Plus! Digital Media Edition which is later included as Windows Dancer in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. The dancing character Boo Who? is wearing a ghost outfit, roughly having the shape of Clippy's body, with a piece of wire visible underneath. Occasionally, the white sheet slips, and reveals the thin curve of steel. The description mentions "working for a short while for a Redmond, WA based software company, where he continued to work until being retired in 2001". Clippit is also included as a player character in Microsoft Bicycle Card Games and Microsoft Bicycle Board Games.
Demitri Martin parodied Clippy in his stand up special Demetri Martin. Person. when he said, "I think it would be cool if you were writing a ransom note on your computer, if the paper clip popped up and said, 'Looks like you're writing a ransom note. Need help? You should use more forceful language, you'll get more money.'"
The webcomic Help Desk has Binky the Cheerful Winking Paperclip who is (almost) always cheerful, and is a parody of Microsoft's Office Assistant. He saved the world from Steve Jobs, was captured by said Apple CEO, and mutated into a classy, aristocratic paperclip named Steve (also known as iClip). Binky was later cloned into Drinky and Evil Binky, who are parodies of Microsoft and Bill Gates.
CollegeHumor also parodied Clippy in the Clock Suckers' 9th episode, Abe-Hole, appearing in an action movie trailer where his annoying remarks are actually useful, which contrasts with most other parodies like Matrix Runs on Windows XP when Neo is bending clippy with his mind.
In the Family Guy episode "Lois Kills Stewie," Stewie sneaks into CIA headquarters and uses one of their computers, and is greatly annoyed when Clippy appears on the screen and says, "I see you're trying to take over the world. Can I help?" Stewie then yells, "Go away, you paperclip! No one likes you!"
In The Simpsons episode "Funeral for a Fiend", Sideshow Bob attempts to kill the Simpson family with a defective laptop battery and a pile of dynamite. Clippy appears on the laptop screen and says "It looks like you're trying to blow up the computer. Mind if I hug my kids?", at which point two smaller paper clips appear, and Clippy appears to hug them. In another episode, Stop Or My Dog Will Shoot, a computer in Springfield Elementary School is being consumed by Bart's new pet snake, to which Clippy appears and says "You look like you're trying to eat me, need some help?"
In the episode "The One Wherein There is a Big Twist Part II" of Drawn Together, the character of Wooldoor Sockbat is unable to reintegrate into society after leaving the Drawn Together house and attempts suicide, Clippy appears as he is about to hang himself and says 'Hey, writing a suicide note? I can help. Here's a tip: avoid cliches like "goodbye cruel world" and remember to blame your parents'.
In a June 2008 episode of the NPR comedy quiz show Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, panelists adlib the dialogue of Clippy as he is driven to the woods outside of Redmond, WA for a mafia-like execution. Quotes include "What are you digging, what are you digging? Can I help you dig?", "Oh, you've got a baseball bat, can I help you learn to play baseball?", and "It looks like you're digging a grave. Is this a business grave, or a personal grave?" This moment was ultimately voted the favorite moment of the show by fans for Wait Wait's August 2009 "Listener's Choice" episode.
A recent parody video created by Microsoft to advertise their new product, Office 2010: The Movie, features a man who is investigating a case about a rogue girl who created a hypnotic font. When initially asked to take up the case, the man replies, "I can't… My partner (Clippy)." The chief responds, "You've got to let him go."
The series Red vs. Blue parodied Clippy in one episode, with Sarge claiming that he has been considered to replace Clippy as the Office Assistant. His appearance soundbyte would have been: "Where do you want to go today, dirtbag?". A third-party developer later released a working office assistant add-on based on the parody.
In the 2008 spoof comedy movie Superhero Movie, the villain of the story, The Hourglass, is using a Microsoft world domination software disk (a parody of a windows software disc), when clippy appears and says: "It looks like you are planning a mass-murder. May I help?" to which The Hourglass responds, "Tch… paperclip guy…".
In the Flash animation "Animator vs. Animation III", Clippy attempts to kill the stick figure (The Chosen One) after it invades the Animator's Required Essay, using a text-made sword with help from the Animator, who uses a text-made gun. While The Chosen One and Clippy face off, the Animator creates another stick figure, The Dark Lord, giving him the command to destroy the Chosen One. After the Dark Lord is dropped into the now-empty essay, Clippy gets tangled like a yarn, and The Chosen One kicks him out of the Microsoft Word window, effectively ending him.
In a video called "The Matrix runs on Windows XP" by College Humor, Clippy is seen twice, and at the end he says: "Looks like you're trying to save humanity, want some help?"
In 2011 as part of April Fools, Blizzard Entertainment promoted Crabby, a "dungeon helper" similar in style to Clippy. Crabby also appears to users while browsing pages related to World of Warcraft. At the end of April Fools, Crabby was removed from browsing pages in response of some text being blocked by him.
In the season 7 finale of The Office: Search Committee, Darryl is told that he will need to supply a resume as part of his application for branch manager, he calls customer support: "Yes, there used to be a paper clip that would pop up and say, 'Looks like you are writing a letter or resume. Would you like help?' I believe his name was… Clippy."
In the Mass Effect video game, a VI named Mira on Noveria says "It looks like you're trying to restore this facility. Would you like help?" One of the dialogue options the player can reply "Crap, a pop-up."
See also 
- Freeman, Jan (2007-02-25). "Finding the grammar checker's frailties". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-02-25.
- Kevan J. Atteberry, "Clippy", comments from the designer of Clippy on his website.
- Cozens, Claire (2001-04-11). "Microsoft cuts 'Mr Clippy'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Microsoft banks on anti-Clippy sentiment". USA Today. 2002-02-06. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- Luening, Erich (2009-10-27). "Microsoft tool "Clippy" gets pink slip - CNET News". News.cnet.com. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Microsoft. Steven Sinofsky". Blogs.msdn.com. 2005-12-16. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- "???????? ?14? ?????????". Kaiyou-k.jp. 2004-07-18. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- "Office Assistant Animations Start Slowly". Microsoft. 2004-10-29. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
- "Microsoft's Office Assistant". Dickinson College. Archived from the original on 2007-02-12. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
- "Office 97 Assistant: Kairu the Dolphin". Microsoft. 1998-06-07. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
- "Microsoft Agent download page for end-users". Microsoft. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
- "Youtube.com". Youtube.com. 2009-07-09. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- "Ribbonhero.com". Ribbonhero.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- "Top 10 worst products". CNET.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- publicblast. "Microsoft Word 2007 Word processor reviews - CNET Reviews". Reviews.cnet.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- Conniff, Richard. What's Behind a Smile? Smithsonian Magazine, August 2007 p.51-52
- "UserFriendly Strip Comments". Ars.userfriendly.org. 2000-07-15. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "UserFriendly Strip Comments". Ars.userfriendly.org. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Web.archive.org". Web.archive.org. 2001-08-06. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- "Microsoft.com". Microsoft.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- Demetri Martin. Person. (2007) (TV) - Memorable quotes
- "Technology Is Not Your Friend". Ubersoft.net. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Collegehumor.com". Collegehumor.com. 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
- Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me! (2009-08-29). "Eulogy For A Microsoft Mascot". NPR. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Backstage With Office 2010". Office2010themovie.com. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Animator vs. Animation 3". Alan Becker. 2011-10-10. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
- Clippy discontinued in Office 12
- Download additional Agents Office 97 (Quiet Office Logo, Kairu, Earl, F1)
- Luke Swartz — Why People Hate the Paperclip — Academic paper on why people hate the Office Assistant
- Microsoft Agent Ring - download more unofficial characters
- "Farewell Clippy: What's Happening to the Infamous Office Assistant in Office XP" (April 2001) at Microsoft.com