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'Clippy' alive? Sighting raises questions, fears

In a somewhat macabre development, everyone's least favorite talking paper clip seems to be starring in a new Microsoft project -- though he's been dead for quite some time.


If Clippy isn't buried here, who is?

Screenshot of Microsoft promo video by Edward Moyer/CNET Center for Investigative Reporting

In a mysterious turn of events worthy of Elvis Presley, "Clippy," everyone's least favorite talking paper clip cum animated software assistant, appears to be the star of a new Microsoft initiative -- despite the fact that he's supposedly been dead since 2004.

GeekWire's Todd Bishop spied the fastener in what he reports is (gasp!) Microsoft's new training tool for Office, a game called Ribbon Hero 2. Clippy even appears to get top billing; the game's official name, Bishop reports, is Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy's Second Chance (a title that's sure to send shivers down the spine of many an Office user).

It's not the first time the aroma of conspiracy has wafted around the cloying length of wire. A month after Clippy's supposed 2001 ousting from Microsoft's flagship software suite (and his supposed move to jobs as a cab driver and a UPS deliveryman), a duo of crack CNET investigative journalists revealed that the fastener had somehow made his way into Office XP.

Just last year, a promotional video for Office 2010 showed what appeared to be Clippy's grave site, replete with a deceased date of 2004.

It's not clear why Microsoft would stage the paper clip's death, but it's equally unclear how said clip would manage to return from the grave. As evidence of Clippy's continued existence, Bishop points to a video posted to YouTube, supposedly the work of Microsoft, and to this blog item by one "Doug Thomas," supposedly an employee of the software giant. We offer them for your own examination and speculation, while we investigate the issue further.

Another question that arises is: If Clippy is in fact alive, who, or what, was buried in his place? Most unclear of all, however, may be the question: Why on Earth would Microsoft let Clippy -- let alone an undead Clippy -- helm a training video for Office?

Perhaps our readers can help clear things up by offering their theories in the comments section below.

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