Microsoft is bringing back its long-retired Clippy to some of its key products -- but only as an emoji, not in its previous role as a digital assistant that many people found very annoying.
Microsoft has refreshed over 1,800 emoji in its Windows and Microsoft 365 products, such as Office and Teams. It's redesigned the emoji using Microsoft's Fluent Design scheme and has opted to animate a majority of them in 3D rather than 2D.
Among them is the paper clip emoji, and Microsoft has allowed its designers to cast Clippy for the role.
"We had to use this opportunity to make a change that only we could truly make -- so long flat, standard paperclip, and hello Clippy!" explains Claire Anderson, art director and emojiologist, in a blog post.
"Sure, we may use fewer paper clips today than we did in Clippy's heyday, but we couldn't resist the nostalgic pull 😊."
The new emoji will arrive in Microsoft Teams and Windows this holiday season and will reach Yammer, Outlook throughout 2022.
"Emoji are solidifying their role as integral communication tools in our online spaces, and you'll be able to use each of these refreshed and new emoji across platforms and devices," Anderson said.
Microsoft has never been shy of using the much-maligned Office Clippy assistant for marketing exercises. It supposedly was going to kill off Clippy in 2001 but then didn't entirely remove the digital Office assistant in the same year.
Earlier this week, it roped in Clippy as part of a nostalgia-themed background for Microsoft Teams. In it, Clippy stands tall on a long stream of the classic Office ribbon.
While admitting all Office users didn't love Clippy, Microsoft still likes to think of Clippy as the "true OG virtual assistant" -- before Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa.
In 2019, there was an effort to create a pack of animated Clippy stickers for Teams, but Microsoft swiftly nixed the project.
"Clippy has been trying to get his job back since 2001, and his brief appearance on GitHub was another attempt. While we appreciate the effort, we have no plans to bring Clippy to Teams," Microsoft said at the time.
Via The Register, Microsoft said it would replace the paperclip emoji in Microsoft with Clippy if it gets 20 000 likes on Twitter, where it has over nine million followers. It touted the same deal on Instagram, where it has 3.2 million followers, but for 200 000 likes. The post currently has over 230 000 likes on Instagram and 163 000 likes on Twitter.