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The Secret Origins of Microsoft Office's Clippy 263

Harry writes "Most folks think that Microsoft Office's Clippy, Microsoft Bob, and Windows XP's Search Assistant dog were perverse jokes — but a dozen years' worth of patent filings shows that Microsoft took the concept of animated software 'helpers' really, really seriously, even long after everyone else realized it was a bad idea. And the drawings those patents contain are weirdly fascinating." The article, a slide show really, spreads over 15 pages.
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The Secret Origins of Microsoft Office's Clippy

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  • Re:WAT (Score:5, Informative)

    by GFree678 ( 1363845 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @10:33AM (#26299503)

    Clippy IS dead. It's been abandoned in all recent MS products, it's only Slashdot that seems to have trouble understanding this.

  • techno amnesia .. (Score:5, Informative)

    by rs232 ( 849320 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @10:48AM (#26299629)
    "nobody now remembers who introduced the small waved underlines .. tutorialized tasks .. the ribbon"

    WordPerfect highlights poor grammar or incorrect word usage with a wavy blue underline []

    Apple Guide [] Isn't Help

    tabbed toolbars [] or the Component palette as it was called in Delphi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:05AM (#26299811)

    In fact, it's been around Office 97, as TFA states in slide 5. That thing about being introduced in 2007 is obviously a typo.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:16AM (#26299911) Homepage

    Like someone says in the comments, Clippy has been around since Office 98.

    Was there an Office 98? I thought there was only an Outlook 98, which may have been the introduction of Clippy, but I thought Clippy was around in 97. I do remember upgrading someone to Outlook 98 and them getting annoyed at clippy, which does make me think that either the feature was introduced in Outlook 98, or else it was turned on by default and made more difficult to turn off.

  • Re:WAT (Score:5, Informative)

    by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:41AM (#26300125)
    What are their complaints from XP to Vista? Hearing all of the bad press about Vista, I was not excited to "upgrade" when I purchased a new Laptop. However, having use it for a few months now, I have not come accross any real problems with it. It was a little different then was I was used to, but everything works.
  • Re:Jesus. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pentium100 ( 1240090 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @01:39PM (#26301505) []

    No More Dog Days

    There are, indeed, strong feelings on both sides about the dog. Rover is the default animated character that appears when you open the Search Companion. People love it or loathe it. There seems to be very little middle ground. Fortunately, everyone can be made happy.

    You didn't read that page, did you?

  • Re:WAT (Score:3, Informative)

    by rilister ( 316428 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @01:56PM (#26301771)

    It did, but I decided to go look for it in Word 2007 and found one of the dangers of allowing user-generated content. Turns out MS doesn't really get sarcasm:

    1.Open Word 2007 (though it's the same in any Office 2007 app, I think). Click on the help icon in the top right (?)

    2.Type in "Office Assistant"

    3. 7th link down is "What happened to Office Assistant?" Click here.

    4. Read the *first* community tip for some mean-spirited hilarity.

    "And given the the amazingness(I know it's not a real word) that is Vista, you (Microsoft) could even creat an overall Vista Mascot that could hang out on our desktop, even while no MS Office programs are open."

    Kudos to the submitter.

  • The damn dog (Score:3, Informative)

    by El_Oscuro ( 1022477 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @01:04AM (#26309043) Homepage

    At work, we recently "upgraded" from Win2k to XP, and I got my first experience with the dog. We deployed a release to production which had a bug in it, and I needed to find all references to the broken routine *FAST*. So I called up the handy-dandy search screen with the cute little mutt and put in the text I wanted to find in the files. No matches. WTF? Did I spell it wrong? No. There was 1 file I knew had it, so I opened it, found the text and than ran the same search again against that 1 file. Still didn't find it. OK, so search for text within files doesn't work.

    I later found out that the search for text with in a file only works with .TXT files (I mean, no-one would ever want to search another type of file, right?). You can get it to work with the following, easy procedure:

    "To configure Windows XP to search all files no matter what the file type, obtain the latest service pack for Windows XP and then turn on the Index file types with unknown extensions option.

    If you use this method, Windows XP searches all file types for the text that you specify. This can affect the performance of the search functionality. To do this:

    1. Click Start, and then click Search (or point to Search, and then click For Files or Folders).
    2. Click Change preferences, and then click With Indexing Service (for faster local searches).
    3. Click Change Indexing Service Settings (Advanced). Note that you do not have to turn on the Index service.
    4. On the toolbar, click Show/Hide Console Tree.
    5. In the left pane, right-click Indexing Service on Local Machine, and then click Properties.
    6. On the Generation tab, click to select the Index files with unknown extensions check box, and then click OK.
    7. Close the Indexing Service console.

    Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    322756 ( ) How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

    Network administrators can configure this setting by modifying the registry. To do this, set the FilterFilesWithUnknownExtensions DWORD value to 1 in the following registry key:


"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva