Clippy goes rogue – infamous paperclip assistant returns to Windows 11 in order to help declutter the OS

Clippy is back on the desktop, in a fashion, with the iconic assistant (originally in Office 97) coming to Windows 11 in order to debloat the OS – via a third-party utility, we should swiftly add.

The idea to resurrect Clippy comes from a German software developer Belmin Hasanovic, who has drafted in the assistant – the icon of which is an animated paperclip, as you may recall – for their Winpilot open-source utility.

As Tom’s Hardware reports, Winpilot has a new version out (v2024.5.6) which incorporates Tiny11 Builder, a separate tool that allows for creating a highly streamlined installation of Windows 11.

Besides that new ability, Winpilot offers a range of features mainly revolving around removing various bits of bloat from Windows 11, from getting rid of default apps you might not want to more advanced tweaking.

Winpilot can also handle tightening up privacy settings, and stripping out Copilot functionality from Windows 11 if you’re really not keen on the desktop-based AI assistant (that Microsoft very definitely is keen on).

Where does Clippy come into this? It’s the Winpilot assistant that offers help, tips, and suggested options, appearing on top of the app’s interface. Clippy also lets you know what Winpilot has done to your system when it comes to debloating measures and the like.

Analysis: Clippy cheekiness

Naturally, this is all very tongue in cheek, and there’s some (intentional we presume) irony in the fact that a debloating utility has what is – let’s face it – an element of bloat. As Tom’s observes, having used the Winpilot tool, the Clippy speech bubbles obscure some of the utility’s actual interface at times, which is something the developer needs to address, surely.

The dev describes Clippy as the “manic cousin of Microsoft Copilot” and it does come out with various jokes and somewhat colorful language – so it is entertaining in some respects. But as noted, it seems like there’s work to be done in reining Clippy in.

If this tool looks at all familiar to you, it might be because it’s been around for some time. Winpilot is the new name for the old app, BloatyNosy, which in turn was previously known as ThisIsWin11. As the old BloatyNosy name suggested, this is about removing bloat and ensuring privacy, but as ever with third-party utilities, we’d be cautious about using them.

The less far-reaching tweaks Winpilot can make are likely to be fine, but when it comes to pulling out bits of the core interface of Windows 11 like Copilot, you need to tread carefully, and be wary about unintended side effects. Particularly with future Windows 11 updates, for example – where changes Microsoft makes could break things in respect of Winpilot’s tweaking (or that’s certainly not an unimaginable scenario).

Big fans of Clippy out there (you know who you are) may also be interested to learn that the assistant has been brought to the Windows 11 desktop before – not as a feature to get rid of Copilot, but rather, to replace the AI.

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Say your goodbyes to Cortana: the unloved Windows 11 assistant is going the way of Clippy as Copilot takes over

The preview of the newest Windows 11 build is missing a big thing: the Cortana app. This change was detailed in an official Windows Insider blog post (aimed at people who help test out early versions of upcoming Windows 11 updates), providing a link to an extra page going into more detail about ending support for the Cortana standalone app. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen talk of effectively killing off the Cortana app. BleepingComputer reports about another Canary channel preview release that had the Cortana app and support for it removed earlier this year. The future of Cortana was originally announced back in June, when Microsoft first set out its plans to end support for the standalone app.

At the time, Microsoft wrote that support for Cortana would also eventually end for a range of Microsoft products including Teams mobile, the Teams display, and Teams Rooms, as well as ending voice assistance for Outlook mobile and Microsoft 365 mobile, in the later half of this year. 

This is a big step for Microsoft which committed a lot of time and resources to Cortana, integrating it deeply into the Windows operating system and tailoring it to work with a number of Microsoft apps and products. It was, however, long expected that it may end up getting culled after Microsoft put out an announcement on its official support blog two years ago that support for the Cortana mobile app would end.

Screenshot of Windows Copilot in use

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The new kid on the block, Copilot

Cortana’s exit is happening to make way for Microsoft’s new central focus, its AI-equipped assistant named Copilot, which was announced at this year’s Build conference. Users were able to try Copilot after the Windows 11 22H2 update was released on September 26. Microsoft’s CVP, Yusuf Mehdi, stated that “Copilot will uniquely incorporate the context and intelligence of the web, your work data, and what you are doing in the moment,” and emphasized that Microsoft was prioritizing privacy and security.

After an optional update (or eventually I assume a mandatory update), Copilot will be turned on by default, with users being able to configure settings with Microsoft’s Intune policy or Group Policy (for groups and organizations). This was clarified by Harjit Dhaliwal, a Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, in a Microsoft enterprise blog post.

As well as Copilot, Microsoft has told users how they can utilize its AI-powered search engine Bing Search and enable voice assistance capabilities through Voice access in Windows 11. 

Cortana’s demise isn’t too surprising, as the voice assistant got a very mixed reception and saw a lot of criticism. Microsoft appears to want to have another try, and is clearly hoping that the AI-powered Copilot will fare better. Although Copilot has taken somewhat wobbly first steps, it’s innovative and has plenty of potential.

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Forget Microsoft Copilot – an unofficial Clippy AI is available for Windows 11

Clippy is back – sort of – and ready to help you out on the Windows 11 desktop, if you dare to install a new app (still in beta).

Okay, so yes, this is an odd one, but you may recall Clippy (real name Clippit, but everybody uses the nickname now) from the heady days of Office 97, where the paperclip performed as a virtual assistant. In theory, it helped you to do stuff, but in practice, Clippy was generally an annoying presence. (“It looks like you’re writing a letter…” – well, we aren’t, Clippy, so go away).

The awfulness of Clippy has been mostly forgotten in the mists of time now, replaced by a nostalgic fondness for the assistant, and one enterprising developer has been inspired to resurrect Microsoft’s creation from the 90s.

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FireCube has made the Clippy app which is available from the Microsoft Store (and elsewhere, for free), software that puts a Clippy icon on your Windows 11 (or Windows 10) desktop, one powered by OpenAI’s GPT 3.5 model (as in ChatGPT).

You can pin this Clippy to the desktop and chat away to what is essentially ChatGPT in paperclip form. Note that this is still very early days for the application, so if you take the plunge, expect issues. Likely lots of them.

Analysis: A paperclip that needs some polish

To give you some perspective on where we’re at with this app, Clippy for the desktop was put on Github only a couple of days ago, with the developer FireCube observing that there are still issues with random crashes. So, stability is likely to be somewhat wonky for the time being, we’d imagine.

A further sticking point is that an OpenAI key is required to use this preview version of the Clippy app. If you haven’t paid for one of those, you won’t be able to fire up Clippy. As noted by the dev, this is one of the most pressing known issues for the application, and FireCube is working on a way around this that’ll hopefully be implemented soon enough.

Further work promised in the near future is the ability to drag and resize Clippy, and FireCube aims to bring more classic characters into the mix alongside the paperclip – like Microsoft Bob.

You may recall that Bob was an attempt to make the interface of Windows 95 (and Windows 3.1 before that) more user-friendly by turning it into a cutesy representation of a house. Like Clippy, Bob turned into something of a joke in the computing community, and was a concept swiftly abandoned by Microsoft.

This new take on Clippy for Windows 11 is clearly a tongue-in-cheek move ahead of the inbound Copilot AI which should go into testing in the relatively near future. (Microsoft promised this would happen in June, but that looks like a bust at this point). To say all eyes are on Copilot, and how it’ll be implemented, is an understatement (check out this recent leak for the latest gossip).

AI is very much the future of Windows 11, or rather, next-gen Windows – that and shifting to the cloud (and maybe a subscription model) – so we don’t expect Copilot will be consigned to the bin in short order, as was the fate of Clippy (and indeed Bob). That said, you never know…

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Microsoft’s AI gamble with Windows Copilot could be another Clippy

At Microsoft’s Build 2023 event, the company unveiled its vision for the future of Windows 11: Windows Copilot, making it, as Microsoft claims, the “first PC platform to announce centralized AI assistance for customers.”

From what we know so far, it looks like Microsoft will further integrate its Bing Chat tool into Windows 11. Bing Chat is an artificial intelligence chatbot based on the popular ChatGPT, and Microsoft’s use of it in its Bing search engine has been praised for offering a user-friendly way of using artificial intelligence.

It got people interested in Bing, something Microsoft has struggled to do in the past, so it’s not too surprising that the company is doubling down and further integrating Bing Chat into Windows 11.

According to Microsoft, Windows Copilot will give you a new way to use and configure Windows – so you can ask it to open up a particular app or setting, and you can do this by chatting to Bing Chat as you would a human using a messaging app.

Let’s be honest: the current implementation of search in Windows 11 isn’t great, so anything that improves it is fine by us.

Screenshot of Windows Copilot in use

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Aways there

In other words, it looks like Windows Copilot can detect what apps you’re using and how you’re using them, and offer you advice and information based on that.

That sounds a little creepy, but it could have its uses – for example, if you’re writing up an essay on a subject, Windows Copilot can give you facts and information to help you. Of course, as we’ve seen in the past, AI chatbots like Bing Chat aren’t infallible and can offer wrong information, so always double-check.

Windows Copilot can also be docked to the side of the screen so it can, according to Microsoft, “provide assistance no matter what [a user is] doing – getting inspired, planning, communicating, creating.”

If Microsoft wants us to keep it pinned to the side of our screens, it’ll need to make sure Windows Copilot is genuinely useful and doesn’t get in the way of what you’re doing. We don’t want another Clippy situation, after all.

Clippy was an assistant that Microsoft added to its Office suite of programs. It was supposed to intelligently determine what you were working on, and offer help and inspiration – which sounds a lot like Windows Copilot.

The only problem was, Clippy quickly became disliked by many people, as it would often interrupt while you were working on something – and, even worse, it often gave you suggestions that had nothing to do with what you were doing.

To avoid Windows Copilot turning into another Clippy, Microsoft needs to ensure that it doesn't become too intrusive. That means it shouldn't show pop-ups or take over the screen.

It also needs to be useful – so if it is watching what you're doing, it needs to give context-appropriate help and suggestions. Microsoft has a lot riding on this, so I hope it gets it right.

Microsoft will begin rolling out Windows Copilot in June to people signed up to test out new Windows features.

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Hate how Windows 11 looks? Windows 2000 mod (with Clippy) brings the nostalgia

Windows 11 is all about modernizing the desktop environment compared to Windows 10, but what if you wanted to go the other way and travel back in time?

You can turn back the clock with various mods, naturally, but a new effort transforms your Windows 11 installation to look like Windows 2000, complete with some functioning legacy apps and interface elements – such as Clippy. (Yes, the famous paperclip ‘assistant’ with a bad habit of interfering with your work when it wasn’t needed).

There are, however, some sizeable caveats as you might expect…

Windows Central reported on this project, which was undertaken by Redditor ExoGeniVI. The main point to be aware of is that it requires the installation of StarDock WindowBlinds, a third-party app for customizing Windows in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways.

It uses a Windows 2000 theme (created by prozad94, a couple of years back) to bring back that OS in all its glory – or gray drabness, rather – and goes further than this with a bunch of other tweaking under the hood of Windows to add some past software versions into the mix (plus some nostalgic icons, too – like Fallout).

On the app front, we’re talking Internet Explorer 5.5 and Microsoft Office 2000, with the latter boasting a working Clippy, albeit with some slight visual glitches (the assistant’s transparency effect doesn’t render properly, being turned into a pink square background instead).

Windows 11 with Windows 2000 mod

(Image credit: Microsoft / ExoGeniVI / prozad94)

Analysis: Windows 11 Gray Mode

The sheer effort involved in getting all this stuff working is impressive, and as ExoGeniVI points out in the Reddit thread showing off the project, these apps actually work. Internet Explorer 5.5 loads some websites just fine, for example. However, it isn’t recommended for serious use (naturally, given how ancient it is – the security holes in IE 5.5 are wide enough for a busload of cybercriminals to be driven through, no doubt).

Indeed, this project is one of those firmly in the category of ‘showing it can be done’ rather than anything with any real practical application. As one person asked: “Why though?” To which ExoGeniVI replied: “Too much time on my hands.”

Fair enough, and with having to restore their PC twice during the process of completing this endeavor, ExoGeniVI also shows why you very probably don’t want to get involved in this level of tweaking.

The safe thing to do, if you want Windows 11 to simply look like Windows 2000, is just to use StarDock WindowBlinds to apply prozad94’s classic skin – with no ancient apps involved – and leave it like that. Even if you’re so inclined, we can’t imagine you’d want to live in such a bland, gray, Windows environment for all that long. Would you?

Via Review Geek

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Windows 11’s new emoji – including Clippy – won’t be coming to Windows 10

Windows 11 has just got some nifty looking new emoji, as you may recall, which are Fluent-style and modern-looking affairs – but these won’t be coming to Windows 10.

They landed earlier this week as part of a preview update for Windows 11, so are officially still only in testing even on that OS, although Microsoft will send them fully live for Windows 11 in December (on Patch Tuesday, which will be December 14).

The emoji – which include the paperclip being replaced by Clippy, the iconic assistant who pestered, er, we mean helped us in Word back in the day – will not arrive in Windows 10, or at least that appears to be Microsoft’s plan as reported by Windows Latest.

The tech site claims that Microsoft has no intention of drafting the modern emoji over to Windows 10, and that they will remain exclusive to Windows 11, at least for the time being anyway. Windows Latest does further observe that Microsoft might change its mind in the future, though.

Analysis: Emoji aren’t high on most folks’ Windows 10 wish-lists

Of course, many Windows 10 users will say that they won’t especially be losing much sleep over the lack of refreshed emoji, and that’s a fair point. They aren’t a huge deal, and not a reason anyone would be upgrading to Windows 11, that’s for sure.

That said, they are nice to have, and it wouldn’t be much of an effort to pipe them over to Windows 10. Maybe Microsoft feels that they’d stick out a bit as odd, as the old operating system hasn’t had the benefit of the Fluent Design-style makeover that Windows 11 arrived with.

Whatever the reasoning right now, we could see them ported over eventually, as the report observes. In the meantime, Windows 10 users will just have to stick with their tired old vanilla emoji.

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