5 reasons why Microsoft should rebrand 'Cortana' to 'Clippy'

Clippy Gang
Clippy Gang (Image credit: Microsoft)

Ah Cortana, the omniscient A.I. ever-present and faithful, helping you complete day-to-day digital tasks that would otherwise require laborious analog intervention. Oh, no, I'm not talking about Cortana in Halo. I'm talking about Microsoft's digital assistant, baked into Windows 10. Or at least, I would've been, up until recently.

Microsoft has been throwing in the towel when it comes to Cortana for a while, removing it from Xbox consoles, and refusing to expand its service area outside of Microsoft's safe anglo-centric homelands. Microsoft effectively admitted defeat when it announced Cortana skills would be going away, severely neutering the assistant's capabilities actually to help you.

Instead, Cortana is going to become more of a productivity assistant. But wait a moment, haven't we been here before?

Here are five reasons why Microsoft should rebrand Cortana to Clippy.

1. Cortana no longer deserves the name "Cortana"

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Cortana's name is inspired by the omnipresent A.I. hologram from Microsoft's popular shooter franchise, Halo. In Halo, Cortana interfaces with the UNSC's hardware as well as the game's main character, Master Chief, providing tactical information, alongside decryption and analytical abilities, making her an invaluable part of humanity's struggles against the alien Covenant invaders.

Cortana was originally a codename, but fans asked Microsoft to keep the name, as it offered a bit of optimism on how powerful Microsoft's nascent digital assistant could eventually become with years of development and technological advancement.

In 2020, it lags hard behind Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa both in terms of features and ubiquity. With Microsoft pulling the plug on its expansion, Cortana's name is a misnomer, and no longer matches up with Microsoft's ambitions for the project.

2. Office is Clippy's turf

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Back in the day, Clippy was a not so helpful helpful cartoon paperclip that popped up on your Office documents, asking if you needed help. Clippy wasn't all that useful for anyone familiar with these programs, but some of his tips and features were actually worthwhile for newcomers a lot of the time.

With Cortana migrating to Office companion, as opposed to a smart assistant, it just makes sense for Cortana to go back to being Halo heroine, and for Clippy to climb out of the drawer.

3. Clippy has no potential restrictions by the Halo brand

Source: Windows Central Cortana on Windows Phone even had a cool Clippy easter egg. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Cortana's association with Halo sort of restricts what Microsoft can do with the way it presents. The very idea of "Cortana" being nothing more than an Office companion feature is an insult to the character created for the game, which we've already talked about. Beyond that, though, Cortana is ultimately female, voiced by (the awesome) Jen Taylor in English.

Clippy is, in fact, a paperclip. Being a paperclip, Clippy can morph into different shapes, owing to its bendy body.

Clippy can also be male or female, depending on your preference. Heck, they could even get some celebrities to do some special voice packs. Who wouldn't want a Clippy voiced by Samuel L Jackson, for example?

4. Clippy is a damn icon

Source: KnowYourMeme (Image credit: Source: KnowYourMeme)

Cortana is famous with a subsection of gamers for her exploits in Halo. I'd argue that, even though Cortana is baked directly into Windows 10, and it pops up during the PC set-up experience, literally nobody else knows who it is or what it does. Conversely, an entire generation of people knows full well who that cheeky chappy Clippy is, and know to associate him with Microsoft Office.

Not only that, but Clippy is a cool clip, rather than a boring circle. Clippy is a nostalgia and branding win.

5. Cortana just isn't a "smart" assistant anymore

Source: Windows Central Hey look it's that sweet Harman/Kardon Cortana speaker/paperweight Microsoft was selling, ironically displaying the Red Ring of Death. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Sure, Cortana may have "machine learning" and have access to far more information than Clippy had available to him back in the 90s, but with Clippy, you know what you're getting. An Office tool, not a smart assistant. Cortana has been so utterly mismanaged and underfunded, that stepping back and starting over has to be a smart choice.

Can Cortana help me turn on my smart lights? Can it boot up games on my Xbox? Can it change the volume on my TV? No? Then I think Cortana loses the designation of "smart" assistant, personally. Microsoft already has an Office companion, and its name is Clippy!

Join the #ClippyGang

Source: Bing Clippy Gang members in their natural habitat. (Image credit: Source: Bing)

It's time to face facts. Clippy was always cooler than Cortana and probably should've always been branded as such. Let's be honest with ourselves here. Microsoft has an opportunity to do the right thing, given the way Cortana is changing, to re-brand it for a new decade of productivity.

Do the right thing, Microsoft.

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It's Clippy! (Image credit: Microsoft)
Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!