The end of Clippy

One of my all-time favorite bits from the National Public Radio comedy news quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me began with quotations from email from Microsoft-founder Bill Gates about the horrors of trying to download software from the Microsoft website. That part was funny, but it got better when it diverged into an improv bit about how Clippy, the annoying animated paperclip who formerly infested Microsoft Office, was finally eliminated.


Incidentally, if you want a new experience, here’s your chance to feel some sympathy for Bill Gates: The email they’re talking about (originally sent January 15, 2003) can be read on the Seattle pi website). There are some nice bits of sarcasm and eloquently expressed frustration throughout. For example, he describes his attempt to download the Moviemaker video editing software from the downloads page, which did not go well.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying – where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie maker (not moviemaker!).

In the course of describing the ensuing horror, Gates asks, “Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable?” Eventually he seems to get Moviemaker downloaded and installed, but it’s not there.

So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus Package.

I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that is a terrible website I haven’t run Moviemaker and I haven’t got the plus package.

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