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For years, Microsoft user interface designers labored under the notion that Windows users wanted a friendly assistant to help them perform ordinary tasks. Clippy, the chirpy, googly-eyed paper clip that debuted in Office 97, became the stuff of endless parodies: “It looks like you’re writing a ransom note. Would you like some help with that?”
Windows XP had its own set of cringingly cute cartoon characters in the form of Search Assistants: Rover the dog, Merlin the Wizard, and a pair of other forgettable characters.
The worst part of the XP search experience was the set of tricks and corny punch lines each character would deliver as it made you go through extra steps to find files.
Eventually, someone in Redmond came to their senses and canned the characters in favor of a simple, fast search add-on. Not coincidentally, that happened after Google delivered a simple, fast search add-on for Windows.
Thank goodness for competition!