The iconic paperclip that appears in programs in the Microsoft Office suite, known as the Microsoft Office Assistance, is a help tool that first appeared in the Microsoft Office suite starting back with Office 97. This tool, which was designed to help people, came with an animated icon that automatically appeared when the program detected a potential situation in which the user might need help. Clippit is the name of the default assistant that would appear, and he came in the form of an animated paperclip.
The Office assistant Clippit is very well known for frequently appearing in Microsoft Word once the users typed the phrase “Dear [name].” At this point, Clippit announced that the user appeared to be writing a letter and offered its help to get the job done. Users would be able to agree to accept help and learn more about formatting a letter or continue working without getting Clippit’s help.
The Office assistant also appears whenever the user tries to use the tools that would use borders or create tables. Clippit can also appear in other shapes, such as a paperclip folded to look like a star, before returning to the shape of the standard paperclip. The actions that Clippit took also was accompanied by certain sound effects.
Although other images could be used instead of the paperclip, such as a jigsaw puzzle or the wizard, the paperclip was the default animated image, making him the most memorable and the one that everybody thinks of whenever they recall the days of the Microsoft Office assistant. Those who had a shared or a stolen version of Microsoft Office would often not have the ability to change the Office assistant to a different character.
Clippit went away with Microsoft Office 2007 in favor of a new kind of help tool.
The Office assistant has been the source of a major debate among users, some of whom argue that it was very helpful and amusing while others felt it was annoying and condescending because it tries too hard to be user friendly. Those who thought it was not helpful or felt it was distracting were able to turn off the Office assistant.
Because the Office assistant has become so popular over the years and because it has been the source of such controversy, it has become the source of many jokes, memes and parodies from the very first release. Television writers, Internet users and comedians have all mocked Clippit and turned it into a recurring joke in both television shows and radio gags alike. Even today, it remains a popular source of humor and entertainment even though it has not been around for a bit now.
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