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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!

It's Clippy! (Image credit: Microsoft)

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

39 Comments
  • How many people are going to write in Clippy for President on election day? Personally I would find that hilarious.
  • I'd do it lol
  • No . Society is slowly moving past the digital assistants . Let Clippy rest.
  • Clippy is cool :(
  • Aren't digital assistants just getting started?!
  • No, they really aren't, they've stagnated over the past year or two, with no meaningful advances at all. It's like everyone has just hit a wall, they're cramming assistant's into more products, but without implementing any truly groundbreaking uses.
  • I still say Cortana should have been added to the Your Phone app on PC and Android in order to make and receive hands free, text and calls. It worked great with Windows phone and would be great, if developed, with the Your Phone app.
  • I agree! MS didn't make the effort.
  • I agree. The best thing about Cortana/my Windows phones was never having to touch my phone to answer a text message.
  • Yep...Cortana always understood me exactly and what I wanted to accomplish. Siri is nowhere near as capable as Cortana was on Windows Phone. I got so tired of repeating myself to Siri, that I just don't use it anymore and instead just do it myself.
  • Cortana = Clippy 2.0! Why not?
  • Clippy = MSBob 2.0!
    Cortana = MSBob 3.0!
  • Please no. Don't encourage Microsoft. People will not take Clippy seriously and just become back as meme on Tik Tok. Yeah, that sounds good but it's not.
  • I'm gonna go with my hunch and assume this just drips with sarcasm. In all fairness, I never thought Clippy was that bad. But yeah, people hate him and now he's a joke for people old enough to remember.
  • I truly hope this is just a bad joke article. Took me for ever to get rid of Clippy in the past. I bet people still have nightmares about Clippy. Please keep Clippy buried in the grave of bad MS Ideas.
  • Cortana must be useful in Skype for Chabots. (this time is ending ?)
  • Maybe not Clippy or Rocky but Cortana could morph into a female dog...
  • If Cortana could turn on your lights and heat the water for a coffee, you could be more productive in your work activities. Doh!!! She/They/it made Microsoft seem cool for a minute or two.
  • I agree, Cortana as a phenomenon is dead, the concept is underperformed. The strongest argument against Cortana as a brand is indeed the Halo franchise. Cortana is bound to the voice. It is okay if Cortana sticks to English. Once Microsoft is to spread it throughout the world, it would only make sense if it was played along with voice actors responsible for the localisation voice of Halo's Cortana. Otherwise it could be anyone (else). Clippy having been featured in Office sounds just as binding to the brand for the long run. It is also a no go. To fit into all the branding that is going on at Microsoft it is to be called nothing more and nothing less than Microsoft Assistant.
  • Um no. Is this a joke?
  • Microsoft.. You suck monkey balls.
  • Clippy, clippy, have you folks forgotten Einstein completely?
    I'm outraged.
  • I know why Microsoft named their recent assistant Cortana, but at the time I wished they would have named it something more soothing and shorter. Alexa rolls of the tongue easily. Siri does as well. I would have loved to see Microsoft go all in with Planet of the Apes name. I would have really liked to say Zira "What's the temp outside?" Or Nova "What time is it in New York?" I think anyone of those would have worked well. At least I would have liked them.
  • I get it, two syllables, but one rocks it. Rock! Hmm, might get confused. Ness or El.
  • It also comes down to contextual triggering. Two syllables may be too short as it has already proven to be a problem for mistakenly firing up Alexa or Siri even when they are not mentioned. Nova for making it even worse would be a too common occurrence in many languages for a trigger word.
  • I wouldn't mind if they made only the Office assistant part 'Clippy', but they should definitely not get rid of the 'Cortana' brand for full digital assistant experience. Just like a real assistant, Cortana is able to 'talk' to other digital assistants/bots/people. They could make Cortana communicate with Clippy when someone wants to talk to their Office 365/Work/School stuff (since it's now separated in Cortana where you can only sign in with a personal OR work/school account). They already have a new Cortana app and chat-based experience with interactive cards now, and finally opened it up worldwide (on Windows only). So hopefully they continue to innovate on that by bringing back third-party skills and smart home capabilities, while also innovating on 'Clippy' for the Office side. That way Cortana remains more the 'consumer'/'prosumer' AI bringing everything together, while Clippy is more the work/school AI focused specifically on Office 365/productivity.
  • Hey Jez, what happened to the collaboration between Microsoft and, was it Melbourne Uni?, with Cortana skills?
  • No clue, might just be for productivity stuff now.
  • Plot twist: https://pics.me.me/thumb_lets-see-who-youreally-are-cortana-old-man-clip...
  • Clippy may have a nostalgia component, but it's not a very positive one. MS ditched Clippy because it was the butt of all the jokes on what was wrong with Office. It'd be like calling it the Bob (which was also from MS and actually closer to Cortana's role back in Windows 95) or the Kin.
  • Microsoft doesn’t finish Anything they start! They Always announce some grandiose idea too early, deliver a V .5 beta, Then build another totally different product mid stream and abandon the current project. The list of projects is too long to type here. I have lost faith in any Microsoft endeavor that is consumer related at this point. I wouldn’t invest in most of their ideas. We as consumers have been burned too many times
  • Doesn't the new Surface Earbuds use Cortana?
  • Congratulations, Jez! This is the best article I read in Windows Central in months. Not only is funny but actually have a point. The service doesn't deserve the name Cortana anymore, Clippy would suit it much better.
  • Thanks haha, it's a bit ironic/sarcastic, but also kinda serious...
  • Well, you're not wrong. Satya Nadella is a moron, and I'd be happy to tell him what he SHOULD have done with Cortana, but he's too stupid to comprehend it. So, yes, they should just stop using Cortana for anything since it's not providing a useful function AS Cortana.
  • Yeah Man. Nadella is a moron who turned MS into a trillion dollar company. 🙄 I get the feeling that YOU can't comprehend what a CEO's job is. Hint: it is NOT to continue funding money losing products so that you and a handful of other people can have Cortana read text messages for you on your Windows phone, while you stream Groove music thru your Zune to your Invoke speaker.
  • Can Cortana help me turn on my smart lights? Why yes, yes she can.
  • Is this a troll article?
  • The “red ring of death”? My invoke looks like that every time I plug it in. It’s actually just a confirmation that Cortana is dead. Which is exactly what I want. I set it up that way. The important part - the Bluetooth speaker - is fine.