Microsoft fired Clippy, its animated paperclip helper in Office, about 20 years ago, but in a nostalgic move, Microsoft is reviving its old assistant in Microsoft Teams.
The new Clippy is now part of Microsoft's attempt to lighten up Teams video calls after a year of remote working. But this time around, Clippy's job has been reduced from that of an animated helper to a mere Teams background image, where he's not working but instead just sitting on an endless Office ribbon, which is a nod to an old Clippy Flash animation on the Office ribbon.
"After well over a year of remote and hybrid work we could all use some excitement on video calls, we asked our designers to give a few memorable Microsoft moments their debut as Microsoft Teams backgrounds," Microsoft said in a blogpost.
Clippy – who Microsoft calls the "true OG virtual assistant" – has made a comeback as one of the nostalgia-themed backgrounds available for Teams.
Also in the "Msft_Nostalgia" Teams background bundle are Landscape, Paint, and Solitaire. Each of them could prove popular as backgrounds.
As Microsoft explained in its blogpost, the Landscape from Windows XP was based on a photograph called Bliss, which is an area in California's Wine Country. Microsoft said billions of people saw that picture of rolling green fields and blue sky.
"In 1996, Charles O'Rear took a photograph in the Los Carneros American Viticultural Area of California's Wine Country. Microsoft bought the rights to the stunning image, Bliss, and eventually chose it as the default wallpaper for Windows XP, which was released nearly two decades ago in 2001," Microsoft said.
"It's estimated that billions of people have seen the picture, making it one of the most viewed photographs in history. The original was a virtually unedited photograph – seriously, #nofilter – but for a new take on the lush landscape for your Teams meetings, we shifted the shadows, softened the clouds, and added a dappling of dandelions across the field."
It's not the first time Clippy has tried to make a comeback. Back in March 2019, Microsoft started experimenting with an animated pack of Clippy stickers for Teams. As reported by The Verge at the time, the Clippy pack appeared briefly on the Office developer GitHub page, but then vanished a few days later.
"Clippy has been trying to get his job back since 2001, and his brief appearance on GitHub was another attempt," a Microsoft spokesperson said at the time. "While we appreciate the effort, we have no plans to bring Clippy to Teams." Looks like Clippy has managed to persuade them again.