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The End Of The Paperclip 304

A number of people have noted the demise of the paperclip assistance in Microsoft Office has been confirmed - so please stop submitting the story. The C|Net story talks about how it's going to be part of the new advertising campaign and gives the web address. The idea behind the paper clip was good - The Economist had an interview recently with the guy who wrote the original using Bayesian algorithims. It was canned because it "didn't come up often enough" MS felt. We'll see how the new help system works, I suppose.
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The End Of The Paperclip

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    NO, this is NOT Flamebait.
    Nor am I a 7 year old special education student. I'm a software developer and use IRIX as my primary platform.

    The problem with clippie is not functionality, but presentation. The natural language processing is good for locating features that should be obvious, but are buried 7-8 menu levels deep--so the ability to to say "how do I turn off hanging indents" has value.

    What makes you want to commit violence against clippie (besides the stupid animations) is the fact that it disrupts your regular workflow. The average computer user (whether experienced or novice) usually does not _read_ what the computer tells him. Clippie merely confuses the "luser" crowd annoys the rest. Reduce clippie to an unobtrusive textbox, keep the lightbulb, and people would use it...
  • You mean the new version of Office is made from corn syrup instead of sugar and hopefully nobody will notice? :D
  • This story reads like an article from The Onion []

    This quote, in particular sounds like prime Onion material:

    "Not one person in my office, from the receptionist to the sales people to the engineers to the CEO use the blasted paper clip. Not even my wife, who is an elementary school teacher, uses it," Ketan Deshpande, senior software engineer at, wrote in an e-mail to "In less time than it took MS to put this Web site together, they could have pulled the dumb clip out of their software."

    And, then the article goes to sum it up stating in effect that this is just a $30million marketing campaign about a changed default:

    Gurry said if people miss Clippy, they can turn him back on by clicking the "help" tag on the Office XP task bar.
  • Actually when Office 97 was first released, this paperclip thing did seem like a good idea.

    Microsoft does extensive in-house usability testing. They may have found that people unfamiliar with the product liked it, but beta testers did not. And unfortunately ignored beta testers.

    In Office 2000 you could click it off permanently. With Office97 you had to delete a file from the harddrive.
  • "I only use ms products at work. i never learn how to play with them"

    It really bugs me when people pretend to know how to support a product in a work environment, but yet can't be bothered to learn how to actually support it well. This isn't the type of employee I want working at my company.

    There are many ways of automating the installation of Microsoft products, included scripted installs or imaging tools such as Ghost. Since this setting is probably a registry entry you could probably have a one time event run in a logon script, as well, etc.
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @12:34PM (#297753)
    Delete or rename the 'Actors' directory will prevent the paperclip or any of his buddies to come up.

  • So, if it learns as it goes, if I tell it to go fuck itself enough times, it will? Or will it get pissed and start lying and giving false info? =)
  • Hey, maybe we can spin that into a new slogan for getting people to switch to Linux:

    "LINUX: We don't even have unified copy and paste, let alone a stinkin' anthropomorphized paperclip"
  • Having now watched the movies, I'm starting to feel sorry for clippy. He's so eager and full of life, and yet based on that fact, he has to deal with all sorts of discrimination and even physical abuse.

    Kind of like the Trix rabbit. There is absolutely *no reason* why those kids won't let him have Trix. "Trix are for kids?" What kind of excuse is that? It's blatant age and species-based discrimination. Does anyone remember the time they let kids vote if the Trix rabbit would get Trix, and kids sent in their votes, and the majority of the votes were in his favor? When he scooped up his first spoonful of Trix, the look of delight on his face; I thought it was a turning point, a veritable 19th amendment for rabbitkind. But then, a few months later, the Trix rabbit was back to being denied access to the Trix that he deserves as equally as you or I. I guess the commercial producers thought that keeping the little guy down was more important than the will of the people.

    Well, I let it slide then, but I won't stand for it now. I demand Clippy's reinstatement in the Office suite.

  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:43AM (#297763)
    It';s not being removed from the product. It's just going to be shut off by default. Hell, I like it. I think te problem with Office Assistant is that nobody knew what it was for. When I show regular end-users how you can "ask" it plain-English help questions and get a correct response most of the time, they usually decide they like Clippy after all.

    Maybe a lot of pople still run MS office on 640x480 displays.

  • It's too bad that Microsoft is just letting this valuable technology go to waste. Maybe they could open clippy's source instead of just taking it off the market.
  • Announcing, the replacement []
  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:08AM (#297769) Homepage
    I shouldn't have to spend 15 minutes configuring an application that is supposed to be good as soon as it's installed.

    It takes about 30 seconds in Office 2000:

    1. Click on paperclip to bring up a dialog balloon
    2. Click on "options" button
    3. Uncheck "Use office assistant" box.

    Now it's gone indefinitely.

    To bring the paperclip back, click on Help->Show Office Assistant

    Hope this helps

    ObJectBridge [] (GPL'd Java ODMG) needs volunteers.

  • I have a feeling you'll appreciate Binky, the cheerful winking paperclip, at

    One of the funniest things I've read in a long time. Thanks to this cartoon, I might almost miss Binky. (Note that this is a series of cartoons that goes on for a while, so yes, you should continue).



  • First of all "0" was obviously an exaggeration. But let's take a few of these:

    + Roaming Profiles -- This worked in Office 4.2 for Windows NT. Support was removed and not re-added for 5 years. Whoop.

    + File Open/Save has Places Bar and History -- This is an OS feature in Win2K.

    + 12 Clipboards -- MS had this thing called "Clipbook" in WfW. I never really liked this feature, going back to shareware hacks on MacOS 6. It looks like XP might get this right by changing it to a "galley" (if you've used PageMaker etc, this is a much more intuitive system). Anyway, this thing just creates annoying dialogs when my clipboards are full, so I wish I could turn it off.

    + Better AutoCorrect -- The same autocorrect, with a bigger lookup table.

    + Click and Type (AutoFormatting) -- Horridly broken feature. Don't say that it isn't.

    + Spelling and Grammar check can check other languages -- This was supported in Word 6.0

    + Nested tables -- Good for HTML compatibility, but a minor feature because you could do essentially the same thing with spanning cells in the old tables back to 4.0.

    + Picture bullets -- Bullets and numbering is totally broken in the current version. Who gives a crap about picture bullets when you can barely use the feature. Please revert to the W95 behavior.

    + Vertical/Horizontal alignment in tables -- always been supported.

    + Better text wrapping -- this was a documented non-WYSIWYG bug in earlier versions. Glad it's fixed. However, I still consider the DTP-like 'frames' feature in newer versions of Word very broken relative to the old behavior. It's at best a very useless half-assed attempt at PageMaker/FrameMaker.

    + Web Stuff -- Much better than previous versions, but have looked at that br0ken psuedo-XML? Especially when the CSS3 draft supports many/most wordprocessor features. This will be overhauled again in XP, I'm afraid. Roundtrip HTML is cool, but I don't use it that much.

    + Collaboration -- A great idea, half-implemented in 2000. I expect to see XP and SharePoint expand into a real groupware system. This is Microsoft's long-term solution to the poor customization features of Exchange.

    Anyway, modulo the webpage roundtripping, and the collab client (bloat for the 90% of the users that don't use it), I fail to see how this stuff could not have been done with the Word 6/95 codebase. The rewrites have only produced a much bigger, more buggy product.
  • I am still having difficulty that MS will really, truly be "poking fun" at themselves over this, though. I guess I'll just have to wait for the new ad campaign to start up.
    You can see some of the movies at []. They're a little bit markety, but they've got some good poke-fun-at-themselves lines...
    User: You little, metallic, $&!#.
    Clippy: "You little, metallic, $&!#." Hmmm... try rephrasing your query.
    User: Next to Microsoft Bob, you're the most annoying thing in computer history!
    Clippy: You know Bob? He's a friend of mine!
    Well, I thought it was pretty funny.
  • Yeah, and the video (which I realize wasn't part of the original thing) has a distinct anti-MS message. So Microsoft is catching onto the whole 90s irony thing. Which was old and lame even before Microsoft got into it. Remember those Sprite ads with celebrities saying how it didn't matter which celebrities endorsed a soda? You think if they believed that they would have run the ads? Madison Ave.'s taking over of the entire range of human expression is starting to get a bit depressing. Now you can't say anything if it's not ironic.
  • This reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon I read today. Dilbert tells this guy the new computer product needs 400 new features and that no one could possibly use software of that complexity. So the guy adds "friendly user interface" to the list. I giggled for about 20 minutes. So anyways. Clippy was a cool idea back when Office 97 came out. If you had problems because Office 97 was a shitty product to use if you didn't have a MOUS you could try to get Clippy to help you. Sometimes he worked but most of the time he told you how to save files. Microsoft needs to make two interfaces, one for novice users and one for MOUS certificate holders. Look at what Adobe has done with Photoshop. They released an LE version that has most of the features and capabilities of the professional version (and most importantly can open and edit proprietary Photoshop files) that is fucking easy to use. Dear Microsoft, take a hint from Adobe and hire a couple guys to write an easy to use face to stick on top of Office apps. Shit it ought to be alot easier now since Office is now going to be completely modularized. Let users choose from an EasyInterface or a MOUSCertifiedInterface. Nuff' said.
  • It does try to appear to be, with all the links into MS,

    No, this site is part of the marketing campaign for Windows XP. Unbelieveably enough, most MS employees are nice people with senses of humor, and they hate MS Bob and Clippy as much (or more) than your typical user...

  • With Office 2k and a careful installation, you can just avoid to install the sucker [1] at all.

    [1] Oh. Did I write that? What I meant was... Sugar! Yeah, right. Sugar.
  • by Rombuu ( 22914 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @12:15PM (#297789)
    They're intelligence tests. Enjoying Dogma and detesting Clippy are prerequisites for intimate relations.

    Do you really have so many potential dates that you felt the need to create an elaborate filtering system?
  • That was absolutely hysterical. Gilbert Godfried as the voice of the clip? And did everybody see the clip saying "All your base are belong to us"?? Credit to MS for (finally!) laughing at themselves.

    And did you also notice how you can turn it back on if you miss it? Did anyone think for a second that when they said "take it out" they meant that the software would go down in size?

  • Lisa Gurry, a Microsoft Office product manager, said Clippy has lived a useful life but is no longer needed. "We think Office has so many new features for making it easier to use that Clippy is no longer useful. This is definitely in response to user feedback. We asked ourselves what we could do to help users find features" with the least amount of confusion.

    OH my GHOD.... its the SON OF CLIPPY!!!

    Is anyone besides me shuddering at what these "New Useful Features(tm)" might be? Didn't they say the same thing about Clippy originally?

    And in case we thought he was really gone...

    Gurry said if people miss Clippy, they can turn him back on by clicking the "help" tag on the Office XP task bar.

    So all they've really done is change the default ('bout time).

  • For any of you that were wondering, Clippy is Bob. For proof, just call up the paperclip in word by clicking on the little help ballon ion on the toolbar, then search for "Bob" - the hits are all about the Office Assistant. (Well, all in Excel97, nearly all in Word97.)

    BTW - I never expected them to get rid of this for one very good reason: I've been told by several Microsoft employees that the product manager for Bob was none other than the woman we now know as Melinda Gates. Bob has friends in high places indeed...
  • Considering how easy it was to turn off / not install, not sure what the problem was for us techies... I sure know that my non-techie sister and mother loved it a lot - amazingly, they felt they needed it when doing things like writing formal letters and such when they couldn't remember silly things like where to place the addresses (right aligned or left aligned, yours or theirs on top, etc.). As already said, it was a good idea, just wasn't used to the best of its potential (and no, popping up more often would not have been the ideal solution - may having more knowledge on official document layouts and such would have been good for people doing resumes and such (but don't know about the pre-made document styles available to them).

  • This is pretty funny: Clippy's web site [], located on MS's Office XP site. They've even got Clippy's resume up :) Interesting marketing strategy: promote new version by making fun of previous feature.
  • Hmm that must be why the site is linked to from Microsoft's official Office page [].
  • by Tower ( 37395 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:50AM (#297803)
    Alas Poor Clippy
    Gone are his words of wisdom
    Turn on the Yankees

  • No, you won't see how the new help system works, because you use Linux and StarOffice.

    Unless, that is, you switch over to the DARK SIDE.

  • by elb ( 49623 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @02:38PM (#297810)
    For providing a service that when used once in any any application, becomes on by default in every application (even when you've manually disabled it), those morons deserve all the laughter and ridicule they can get.

    Not only has MS ignored user behavior for years -- for god's sake, a focus group is NOT a usability test, and just because someone thinks the paper clip is cute doesn't mean that it's going to make them more efficient -- but their usability engineers are clearly retarded for not realizing how grossly the thing violates some very simple interaction design heuristics.

    for example, attention and fitts' law []. let's think of context. someone is using MS Word. let's assume it's not their first time. they have been typing away and move their mouse towards the toolbar. they start to hover the mouse, trying to figure out which of the toolbar buttons they need to click. suddenly -- WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE! little mr. clippy grabs their attention to the lower righthand corner of the screen. their focus is lost, they spend a couple of seconds getting clippy out of their face, and now they have to move their mouse all the way to the other corner of the screen and figure out all over again which button they want to click.

    it's like all the Media Lab research that says "computers should recognize when people are frustrated and then apologize! it'll make users feel better!" guess what -- if someone had spent half the time usability engineering the computer that MIT spends enabling the computer to understand my emotions, MAYBE I WOULDN'T BE SO FRUSTRATED TO BEGIN WITH! (disclaimer: obviously the emo-detection has other applications; but turning it into pseudo-usability is off base)

    had microsoft spent any bit of time making their styles usable, for example, it would have saved me about a day of work while i was writing my thesis. fuck the office assistant -- how about some well-designed software instead?
  • by devphil ( 51341 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:24AM (#297811) Homepage
    and you have to pity the poor VP when the *only* reaction he got from the crowd was a massive cheer when he said that clippit was off by default.

    No, I don't have to pity him. I scorn him and their "[un]usability engineers" for not listening to feedback until years after Clippy was released. For looking at the beta testers who swore and smacked the monitor every time the little fscker popped up, and writing off those testers as somehow ignorable.

    For providing a service that when used once in any any application, becomes on by default in every application (even when you've manually disabled it), those morons deserve all the laughter and ridicule they can get.

    I'm not trying to sound bitter and spiteful about the issue, it's just that I am bitter and spiteful, so that's just how I come out sounding.

  • Mmmm... vi with clippy. Wasn't there a User Friendly cartoon series about Pitr doing just that?

    - - - - -
  • > The poll is missing a few options for what role we think Clippy is well suited for:

    I vote for rectal thermometer. Every time I see that goddamn paperclip, I know what I wanna do with it. Something involving Bill Gates.

    Slashdot Editors, please, give us a poll topic. I wasn't at all pleased with the options available on

  • by babbage ( 61057 ) <> on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:56AM (#297818) Homepage Journal
    Is something, anything, that shows someone bending that damn paperclip back & forth until it snaps in two. Or three. Or many, many more.

    A plugin that allows you to do this in Word would be very cathartic, but I'd be willing to settle for a Flash animation that shows the same effect.

    It looks like you're writing a letter!

    It looks like I need to BREAK YOR FUCKING SPINE!

    Too bad I've never gotten around to learning to use Flash. Hmm.....

  • I see a lot of joy about the death of clippy. What is getting ignored here is that software is still too hard to use.

    The vast majority of users use are still somewhat intimidated by computers and do not even begin to make use of their full power. Don't believe me? Try watching a "normal" user work with their computer. How about sitting in on customer support calls? It is a deeply humbling experience. Software is still not good enough.

    So what is the solution?

    How about for starters rethinking the entire GUI paradigm. I mean Xerox Parc was way ahead of the curve back in the late 70's, but maybe it is time that we try and rethink things a bit.

    For starters, what's so sacred about the menu bar? It is just this inert thing that shows me a list of commands where most are inappropriate for the work at hand. It is also quite cryptic. I agree that the clip guy was not implemented that well, but as a replacement for the menu bar it has potential.

    Another thing to think about is that we are social creatures. And suprisingly, tests have shown that we unconsciously work with computer in a social manner. The clip guy is a start towards making that social interaction explicit. That may not sound like much, but consider that the whole point of GUI is to tap into an intuition about how our brains work.

    I think people should be able to choose their UI. Ultimately I think software should be able to morph between serving people who only use a product several times a month and people who use that same product day in and day out. People who don't use the product that often would probably prefer more agent interactions (such as an improved Bob like interface), and people who use the product everyday would prefer a more bare to the metal interface. With computers as powerful as they are today there should be no serious problem providing both UI's for a program.

  • Unfortunately, this is completely the wrong measure of how long this operation takes. What you have measured is the length of time it takes in Office 2000 once you know how to do it.

    "Hi! It looks like you are attempting to turn me off! Should I:

    (Format Harddrive) (Reboot without saving) (Send Quicken Data files to l33t H4X0r) (Send e-mail threat to


  • > It takes about 30 seconds in Office 2000:

    > 1.Click on paperclip to bring up a dialog balloon
    > 2.Click on "options" button
    > 3.Uncheck "Use office assistant" box.

    Yes, but how long does it take to work this out. This information is quite hard to find, unless you ask the paperclip.

    Actually the paperclip is very useful, because you can ask it questions in plain English and mostly get useful answers.

    The problem was it popped up too often

    And this is the one that really annoyed me: when you clocked on it to go away, it would wait a few seconds, then wink, then eventually disappear. If it was a person I would have punched its lights out.
  • His resume [] contains an AWESOME inside joke about Network Associates .. or did they say Software Associates...

    Software Associates
    Trenton, NJ
    Chief Technology Officer

    Assisted in removing disks from damaged disk drives.

  • The 3D maze was in Excel 95. The flight sim is in Excel 97.

    They can be found in the archived /. at l []

    and in the Easter Egg Archive [].

    Heheh. Everyone time Easter Eggs comes up, I remember the ones back in Need For Speed (PSX).

    Mine was this one: Players can only enter names with that a maximum 8 chars. I was a little annoyed that my name wouldn't fit, so I had the name entry screen automatically append the "I" when you entered in my last name.

    And I remember the day Dave (fiziks guy) put in the machine gun cheat. Lost productivity that day :)

    Now only if we could find that nude cheat in Dungeon Keeper. :) (Hey, Peter Molyneux said no one found it, at last years GDC talk [] or at Blue's new's link [])

  • 1. Clippy
    2. "...the voice of Gilbert Gottfried"
    3. JonKatz

    All your clippy are belong to us.

    Sorry, had to get that out of my system.
  • I always hated that goddamned paperclip.

    Then again, I use StarOffice for everything except email, so I guess I don't matter.
  • by BenHmm ( 90784 ) <> on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:06AM (#297842) Homepage
    I've got Office XP RC1 running right now and the bastard is still there.

    having said that, I was at the european journo briefing in Seattle last week, and you have to pity the poor VP when the *only* reaction he got from the crowd was a massive cheer when he said that clippit was off by default. The special pauses they all had in their powerpoint presentations for applause were just awkward silences, but the clippet thing stopped the show.

    MS also have a kill the clippit shockwave game somewhere on their site, allegedly.
  • Annoying, yes, but pretty easy to get past - simply select more than you need and then backtrack and bit - and it'll just unselect whatever you need and not the whole word. PITA, oh well...


  • Autocorrect is another Word feature that I'm quick to turn off.

    I keep it on only to correct "teh".. so I guess I could do without it


  • Are people really so stupid that they don't know the left-mouse-button-brings-up-context-menu / middle-mouse-button-doubleclicks routine? How much more unified do they want? Why can't Linux get with the standard...


  • Though, it looks like he did lie on his resume. It says fluent in C++. Go find someone who has Office and type 'C++' in his question box. The only answer he returns is "Change the program that starts when you click on a file."

    You mean if you click on "Change the program..." he'll actually tell you how to use C++ to modify the application? Wild!


  • I heard they got rid of Clippy to clear room under the salary cap for Zippy. I like emacs and all, but if Zippy leaves it will be a tough call.
  • by S5o ( 102998 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @12:46PM (#297854) Homepage
    Better in it's original format. []
  • When I work I don't have the time to look after anything.
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:32AM (#297856) Homepage Journal
    That's right, it is an add campain over a changed default, and we are it's first suckers:

    The Clippy site will include e-mail and a variety of "viral" marketing tools that Microsoft hopes users will use to e-mail portions of the ad material -- like songs and presentations animated with Macromedia Flash -- to one another.

    Hmmm, like "I love you" or "Millisa" or just a mail flood? MS does know virus and DoS. Yes, that stupid animation was a DoS, my computer churning to do things I didn't ask it to instead of what I want it to. I can only imagine what kinds of trojans are going to end up in all those cute clippy films they expect people will mail to EVERYONE they know. How I hate that. I'm sure to get five of these things a day in my junk mail accounts. Grrrr!

  • by mmmmbeer ( 107215 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:24AM (#297859)
    So what you're saying is that the paperclip should only pop up if you're doing something completely random (i.e. something it doesn't recognize as a pattern), or if you're doing something it recognizes as a certain pattern? Hmmm. Always, then. Yep, that would just about cover all the times the thing popped up.
  • Of COURSE beta testers didn't like it. How many beta testers (which are primarily geeks) don't know how to use a word processor?

    They were aiming for the crowd that doesn't know a thing about what they're doing. All the computer illiterates out there.

    Just because you don't like things doesn't mean they're useless.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • by VultureMN ( 116540 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:08AM (#297866)
    I'd like to see MS sell little stuffed paperclips. I can use my LEGO Mindstorms set to build a robotic skeleton, use the paperclip as a 'skin', and have it go haywire with an AK47 in Redmond.

    "It looks like you're trying to fire me. Would you like to take a bullet

    • Through the head
    • Through the torso
    Please see the Clippy Help System (AKA MY FUCKING ASS!) for more information"
  • The article is a big, steaming pile of marketing:

    if people miss Clippy, they can turn him back on by clicking the 'help' tag on the Office XP task bar.

    How, then, is the blasted thing being removed? It doesn't pop up as often. Great. Wow. Personally, I uninstall the component whenever I can.

    On the bright side, Clippy helps me identify people I don't want to date?

    I have a few tests. Test 1. Can they watch Dogma for the first time and listen to the dialog instead of complaining about how little action there is.

    Test 2: Do they like the #$@& Paper Clip.

    They're intelligence tests. Enjoying Dogma and detesting Clippy are prerequisites for intimate relations.

    I never get First Post because I actually READ the articles and think about them before posting. []

  • Yes, I do. Don't all computer geeks who rock climb, write poetry and give two hour massages have women lined up?
  • Not enjoying Dogma, but staying awake through the dialog. I don't want waste my time someone who just wants to see fights and things blow up. I want somoene who can THINK.
  • To tell the truth, I date a lot. I just have to weed out the human version of SPAM. Of course, since that means anyone at your IQ is beneath me, I don't expect much more than a one-liner from you.
  • I read this article [] at Yahoo! News. There was one line of the story that jumped out at me...

    First, read this line:

    Lisa Gurry, a Microsoft Office product manager, said Clippy has lived a useful life but is no longer needed. "We think Office has so many new features for making it easier to use that Clippy is no longer useful. This is definitely in response to user feedback. We asked ourselves what we could do to help users find features," with the least amount of confusion.

    Clippy didn't help people find anything. What a revelation (like everyone else in this thread has said...) But then, read the next line:

    Gurry said if people miss Clippy, they can turn him back on by clicking on the "help" tag on the Office XP task bar.

    So Clippy's not ACTUALLY dead. They just changed the default value to not have Clippy pop up! He's STILL THERE!

    So all of this is just PR whoring, promoting MS's message that XP is so easy to use...

    Does anyone actually believe that XP is "easier" to use? Or did MS just finally get the cluestick-to-the-head and change the default on Clippy, and some Marketing hoser figured out that it makes good press (note all those submissions to /.) to change something annoying in the software?

    What a farce.

  • by SpanishInquisition ( 127269 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @10:56AM (#297877) Homepage Journal
    It's an easter egg, you just have to type "I'd like to see Bill Gates dead" in bold and it comes up as a full 3d shooter that would make John Carmack jaleous. Ever wondered why the default install was so big?
  • Actually, Agent wasn't an MSR project. The Agent team was a small, independent (and INCREDIBLY LOUD) product team -- two devs, one PM, a handful of testers. They were down the hall from us.

    The Agent guys did good work, though -- wonder what they're working on now...
  • The URL for the Economist article is =539674
  • Ok, I think The Register has already pointed it out with respect to ads touting no more BSODs, but it bears repeating here...Microsoft has apparently been reduced to a marketing pitch that boils down to this:

    Boy, we used to suck. But we've fixed that all now, promise!

    What's next, Ford featuring Explorers flying into ditches to tout the safety of their new MegaVehicle du jour?

  • Okay I don't know what world MS is in when they say that the paperclip doesn't come up often enough. I recently wanted to have every computer at my company save files as text only on Word to help with publication. In Mac Word 2001, however, there is _NO WAY_ to stop a warning from popping up complaining about saving in text only, which naturally confused the crap out of people at work.
  • That move wasn't that great...

    Rate me on []
  • I had a hard enough time trying to get that bubbly eyed piece of wrinkly metal out of my face! Heck, the thing scared my mom the first time she saw it! Klowner
  • No, it's the other way around. The original algorithm made the paper clip come up less often.

    The Economist's article is here []

  • Check out this quote from the article

    We think Office has so many new features for making it easier to use that Clippy is no longer useful

    Hunh? More features != Less complex in anything I've ever seen, but apparently Redmond logic is a little bass-ackwards...
  • by Baalam ( 163817 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @10:56AM (#297904) Homepage
    In the mouseovers on the buttons at the left of clippy's site [] eventually clippy says, "All your base are belong to us!" Couldn't believe it! Enjoy!
  • From website:

    Document Recovery gives you the option to automatically save your current document, spreadsheet, or presentation at the time an application stops responding, so you don't lose a moment's work.

    So wait... they know when the application is going to stop responding, so they can save the document just before. That's cool.

    But shouldn't they just fix the fucking problem that's going to make the app stop responding?

  • but Vigor [] will be with us always.
    Oh gawd I'm evil. Trust me do not install Vigor []. But if you really want to there are debs. Just follow the link. It is bad trust me.
  • It takes about 30 seconds in Office 2000:

    Unfortunately, this is completely the wrong measure of how long this operation takes. What you have measured is the length of time it takes in Office 2000 once you know how to do it.

    The real problem is if you don't know the magic sequence of operations and you spend time looking in the tools section (is it Customize or Options?) then clicking on various confusing tabs and other options looking for the bit that turns off that damned paperclip.

  • Excel is a first person maze ;)

  • by fwc ( 168330 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:11AM (#297912)
    Does this also mean that the end of our friendly vi-paperclip vigor [] is near?

    Perhaps the authors will update it to insult^H^H^H^H^H^H er... emulate whatever new help system microsoft has come up with.

  • You've got to be fucking kidding me. Those Flash animations were the best thing I've seen come out of Microsoft in a long time.

    "You mean the f**king paper clip? That was the most annoying thing since Microsoft Bob!"

    It's nice to see that they have a little tongue in cheek (also, the reference to "developing his dot-net strategy" was clever).

  • "It looks like you're posting to Slashdot..."

    No comment on how clippy would offer to help out with that...
  • Yeah... just keep mousing over the the links on the lefthand side... the quotes that come up in the picture below appear to be random. Eventually, this one [] will come up.
  • Go here [] and see this [].

    2*b || !(2*b) is a tautology
  • Well the interesting thing is teeth or even hair weren't part of the filtering system.
  • by fantom_winter ( 194762 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:13AM (#297934)
    I have a few tests. Test 1. Can they watch Dogma for the first time and listen to the dialog instead of complaining about how little action there is.

    Test 2: Do they like the #$@& Paper Clip.

    They're intelligence tests. Enjoying Dogma and detesting Clippy are prerequisites for intimate relations.

    I take it you don't date much...

  • is here. []
  • Good point. Perhaps the "Bye-bye Clippy" bit is FUD to distract the public from the reg server?!
  • Yeah.
    Software so easy, you won't need the office assistant, or it's new help system is -)Better!(-

    Excuse me, I have a work of fiction I'm still reading, it's called "The Paperless Office."

    Largest grunt of dismay with M$ Office is all that automatic stuff shipping enabled. Takes a few hours to find it all and disable it. Nominee for best improvement to their software, ship with all that disabled and a brief section on what they are, how they work and how to turn them on if you want them.


  • &nbsp

    ...That Microsoft's stock went up 3 points on the news.

  • Well I must admit I like the dog. Then again, I like alot of pointless things that unnecessarily devour system resources.
  • Something is odd over at the clippy site, when you mouseover the XP demo, ole clippy is makes an AYB reference.......
  • What are they going to replace Clippy with? Do they really think they can scapegoat their help strategy problems onto an animated graphic?

    This is the same company that took a (relatively) decent help system for VBA in Office 97 and replaced it with one that only highlights half the subjects and is constantly telling you "To locate information on this keyword, please select one of the subentries in the list" even though all those subentries are grayed out.

    This is the same company that, when Hotmail goes down over server issues, offers you a page entitled "Having login problems?" that basically asks several questions that suggest in a polite way that the surfer is a retard who doesn't know anything about internet connections, even though it's THEIR FAULT.

    Yes, Clippy sucked, but I'm not entirely confident that they're going to replace it with anything better.

  • Perhaps Microsoft feels that many people would pay $$$ to have the removed?

    That's a pretty sneaky way to get people to buy an upgrade every two years.
  • The main message of that site (besides dissing Clippy) seemed to be how great Office XP is going to be. (No Clippy for starters.)

    Losing Clippy is good, but gaining the registration system is bad.

    It turns software I buy into "Degradeware". What happens 5-10 years down the road when I try to reinstall, and the registration site is gone? Or Microsoft :^)

    Something like this has already happened to me. I reinstalled StarCraft and tried to network connect to get the patches for the latest version. No luck. Degradeware will only last as long as the company, or until they stop supporting it. I expect the software I buy to last until the CDROM wears out!
  • Oh, come on? Kill Clippy? Bill, you mean to tell me in this era of dubious business practices, the Cue Cat, and the DMCA, you can't think of a single *useful* job for Clippy? Sigh. Why don't you fire some of those idiot marketing yoyos of yours, and listen to your old pal Melantha? After all, who's better at sucking (blood or money), that a 2500 year old vampire?

    Here's some (evil) ways to put Clippy to work for you (instead of being a wimpy help for the clueless user):

    1) Advertising. Go find yourself some partner companies, and use Clippy to deliver advertising customized to the user's current needs. If the user is writing a letter to a company about their products, have Clippy tell them about your partner's much better products. Microsoft gets the advertising dollars, your partners get a customer, and the user saves the trouble of writing the letter.

    2) Gather Demographics. Come on, Clippy is privy to all sorts of addresses and keywords scattered throughout documents all over the planet. Tell him to start reading and phone home occasionally. You can sell all the info he collects for big bucks. The user need never know or even care. ;)

    3) Outright Spying. Take the plunge, and have Clippy take over any microphones and web cams attached to computers running Office. Who knows what juicy tidbits you might get. I'd clear this one with your lawyers first though. Congress is pretty clueless, but there might be some pesky law standing in the way of this. You might be able to do some deal with the FBI though.

    4) Copy protection. Hey, IP protection is the in thing, might as well jump on the bandwagon. Besides, MS has been the industry leader on the anti-piracy front. Clippy can monitor email attachments, and when the user is trying to email their friends an illegal copy of the latest mp3 or Microsoft product, Clippy can notify the police and offer to show the user their rights while they wait for the cops to show up.

    5) Parental control. If the kids try to use dirty words in their email or other correspondence, Clippy can notify their parents.

    6) Distributed processing. If the computer is not in use for a certain amount of time, Clippy can turn control of the computer over to Microsoft. You can sell the time to pharmaceutical companies for big bucks.

    See, Bill, there is lots of money to be made here. Combine these ideas with .Net, and you will rule (and own) the world.

    Your friend,
    Melantha Bacchae

    Disclaimers: I don't really know Bill, and I'm not really a vampire, evil or otherwise (I just play one on the internet). I hate Microsoft and their products (but that's just my opinion). This is a parody; no actual violation of a user's privacy or other rights is intended. Anyone taking this "letter" seriously needs to get a life.
  • by Geeky Frignit ( 232507 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:00AM (#297965) Homepage
    The virtue of Bayesian algorithms is that they are based on probabilities learned as the system is used. They would only come up when the probabilities reach a point where they show a person is having problems. So, if a person obviously knows how to use MS Office, then the paper clip guy would stay hidden as the evidence nodes of the Bayesian network wouldn't be set by proper use. Therefore the only times the Paperclip agent would show is if you are clicking around aimlessly or if you started writing in a form close to one of their templated forms (i.e. letters).

    Bayesian networks are super cool...I took a grad level course in them as an undergrad my last semester of school.
  • I hate that thing! It's integration into office 2k when it comes to any basic file opening/saving.... that thing realy really needed to go quick. I shouldn't have to spend 15 minutes configuring an application that is supposed to be good as soon as it's installed.
  • Does anybody else out there find it a, sinister that a Microsoft puppet/icon/whatever would be saying, "All your base are belong to us?"

    Yeah, I laughed. Yeah, it was funny. But then I said, "Heeey...Wait a minute..."

    Also, I just have to say I can't believe I was right about that damned paperclip all these years! For years I've been calling that stupid thing "The Lecherous Paperclip" because of the way it winks and wiggles. Then, I go onto this site and see the damned thing "saying," "It looks like you're writing a love letter. Can I see?" I knew that thing was just a rotten voyeur!

  • what they didn't tell you, was that it was being replaced by a glue stick...

  • by sparcv9 ( 253182 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:07AM (#297984)
    Simple. You give him the voice of Gilbert Gottfried. Microsoft actually has 2 Flash movies on the [] website, featuring Clippy with the World's most annoying voice ever. Who the Hell thought this was a good idea?
  • Working as a tech requires me to set up customers systems FAR more often than I'd like!! I have never in my 40-50-odd installs of M$ Office have *not* been asked to turn off the damned paperclip!! No one yet *hasn't* been immediately annoyed with the lil guy, and NO ONE has asked for such a feature in ... say ... openoffice! Good riddance, and I do believe this will be known as the smartest thing M$ has done this year!!
  • What did they want?

    "It looks like you're trying to push the enter key!
    To enable AutoEnter at the end of paragraphs, please click through this ten minute wizard."
  • by Peridriga ( 308995 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @10:55AM (#298008)
    I can finally let just MS Word fuck up my documents instead of relying on that little paper clip to fuck it up for me...

    --- My Karma is bigger than your...
    ------ This sentence no verb
  • by dev!null!4d ( 414252 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @10:56AM (#298025) Homepage
    User typing: "Dear Loved ones, I just can't take it anymore..."
    Paper Clip Pops Up!: It looks like you are about to take your life, would you like to use?
    (Pills) (Rope) (Knife) (Gun)
  • by Magumbo ( 414471 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:02AM (#298026)
    eggs, frozen burritos, coffee, salsa

    "Hi! It looks like you're writing a resume. Need some help?"

    .oO{ goddam piece of shit microsoft bullshit }

    dog food, milk, gum,

    "Hi! It looks like you're writing a letter. Can I be of assistance."


How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."