Attention all humorless technaheads

My colleagues over on the MSDN side of the company tell me that the feedback on MSDN Library and Dev Center generally fall into four categories:

  • My laptop crashed. Windows sucks!
  • Microsoft sucks!
  • Can you fix my code?
  • Check out this male enhancement product.

And then this happens.

Feedback submitted on 03/25/2015 for Create Personality


So somebody misses the cat assistant. Still no love for Clippy, though.

Bonus chatter: Although they are probably talking about Links the Cat, part of me wishes they were talking about Earl the Cat. What, you don't know who Earl the Cat is? Here's what he looks like.

I smell help in the air.
Name: Earl
Use Earl to relieve your Office headaches.
Recommended adult dose should not exceed 8 hours per day.
Comments (27)
  1. Don Reba says:

    Are there any side effects to Earl?

    1. cheong00 says:

      When you need to see Earl more than 8 hours a day, it can cause you tiredness, drowsiness and possibly mental fatigue because of prolonged workhour.

  2. kktkkr says:

    Clippy sucks! Links the cat is fun! creative! humorous! Earl the cat may cause side effects including hypertension, hypochondria and migraines!

    1. Huh? Hypochondria?

      1. Steven Don says:

        The best possible side effect. Once you think you’ve got it, you’ve actually got it!

  3. Ben says:

    I liked them all.

    The number of times people asked me how to do something and I could literally type the question in to ask Einstein and get a perfectly lucid answer….

    The help used to be excellent, but it looks like even Einstein and Links couldn’t get users to actually use the help.

    The help has gone considerably downhill, but I guess if nobody used to read it (and why were they asking me if they did) then that would explain why it gets no love anymore.

  4. Yuri Khan says:

    Back in my university days, I used to have an Agent-based talking alarm clock.

    At the pre-configured time, Peedy the Parrot would appear and announce the current time once. x: If a key was not pressed within five minutes, it would assume I’m still sleeping and say the time again. GOTO x

    After a while, my parents and sister grew weary of it and I took it down.

  5. ChuckOp says:

    I always thought it was Lynx the Cat? He/she was always my favorite Office Assistant.

  6. ojno says:

    All office assistants pale in comparison to Scribble the Papercraft Cat from Office 97.

  7. says:

    The use of Comic Sans in that video really rustled my jimmies.

  8. Although I never used the online help in Microsoft Office much, I did really enjoy the animated assistants in Office. I thought they were cute and fun “toys”/”friends” on the desktop. (Yeah, I don’t have very many human friends.)

    Regarding online help (for young users: no, it has nothing to do with the Internet or the WWW), surely there was more of that stuff in the old days? In Windows 9x, “most” dialog boxes had the help button in the title bar, and you could also right-click most non-edit dialog box controls (including static controls) and select “What’s this?” to get the help associated with the control.

    (I think the label was “What’s this?” in English. All I know for sure is that it was “Förklaring” in Swedish.)

    1. There is something important in what you said. Not only the so-called assistants are discontinued, Microsoft is no longer offering anything in the way of Help in its products. Even error messages have become useless and say no more than “It failed because of a problem”. (DISM and Windows Installer are the worse; they say “It failed because of a problem. See the log for details.” After spending precious time digging the log, you see that it says. “An operation failed. Printed the message ‘It failed because of a problem. See the log for details.’ Exiting.”)

    2. skSdnW says:

      All the ?/”What’s this” context help was removed in Vista without any explanation. I suspect it was because they removed WinHelp support in that OS.

      1. Micha Elyi says:

        What’s the deal with What’s This?? by Raymond Chen – MSFT   May 24, 2010

        1. RKZENITH says:

          While I agree that help functionality has been practically useless since Windows 3.1, I think we need the contextual help now more than ever as Microsoft has abandoned practically all visual cues on the UI of so many products with Windows 8/2012 and beyond (no borders on buttons, no underlines on hyperlinks, etc).

  9. Ray Koopa says:

    Indeed, I do remember this new “modern-style” cat which lived in a layered window without a border.
    But I don’t remember this cartoon-style one! And as a kid, toggling through the office assistants in Office 2000 (or was it 98?) made me remember pretty much all of them… (I couldn’t use them though because they were installed on-demand, that’s when my dreams of exchanging the clip assistant with another one shattered).

  10. Brian says:

    I never understood the hate for Clippy. He was benign, and you could “ask him a question”. He was also good at reminding you that you were supposed to be writing (he’d make a noise somewhere between a clink and a toe-tap if no input had happened in a while).
    I also miss the “Tip of the day” feature. It was mostly useless in Office, but I always thought it was a good way to surface hidden features in Visual Studio. And, every now and then you’d get a “Don’t run with scissors” tip and a smile.

    1. Engywuck says:

      it took quite a bit of “screen real estate” when screens where quite small. The proposed solutions often were not even remotely related to the problem you really had. The animation took a bit of time better spent productive (I really hated the “dog goes out of the screen” animation in XP search, btw). The actors were way too cartoonish for “serious environments”. And on top I don’t need something making a noise and moving when thinking hard of what to write.

    2. SimonRev says:

      Because he would knock on your monitor and wave (complete with tapping glass sound) when you were trying to concentrate on something. Very nearly put my fist through the monitor before I figured out how to completely deactivate him

  11. Eddie Lotter says:

    “Can you fix my code?”
    That’s generous. I see a lot of “Can you write the code for me?”

    1. cheong00 says:

      I don’t see this a lot on MSDN forum, just see lots of “Pls give me the codez” on another forum, largely because see tend to ignore them or ask them to give what they have on hand now first.

  12. Azarien says:

    Forget about Clippy. Bring back the Dot!

    1. smf says:

      @Azarien Office Logo FTW It has more attitude than the slab from 2001.

  13. I am sure everyone has already seen it, but if not, use Google or Bing to search for “Clippy.js”, and you get a HTML/CSS/JS version of the old paper clip.

  14. Arioch says:

    Links was great! Pointless, but great. Or maybe great because pointless.
    Wen you was stuck in some process and brains halted – you could idly play with links while brains subconsciously recover.

    Not saying anything bad about Earl, but i really do miss Links sometimes :-)

  15. Max says:

    In high school I used a plugin to PowerPoint to script the Agents to deliver my presentations. I thought that was really cool at the time, like writing a screenplay for actors you didn’t have to pay for.

    I keep thinking that Cortana should be able to invite her old friends to come back and hang out on our desktops sometime. I’m sure that Cortana would be friends with Links the Cat and Rover (and Peedy and Robby and…) and maybe even Clippy and Bob…

  16. Joshua says:

    The cat was good.

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