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MS ridicules itself to sell Office XP

'We've been such idiots -- please upgrade'

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Microsoft is hard-selling the irritating character of its animated paper clip Office Assistant, which it's now decided to name "Clippy", to promote Office XP and finally get some decent mileage out of the hated little "feature".

The basic angle here is that XP is so perfectly idiot proof that even the densest users will no longer need to be interrupted with unsolicited instructions. Thus Clippy is looking for a new job (haw, haw) and visitors to the Clippy requiem cum XP promotion Web page are invited to have an all around blast by voting on his future, reviewing his CV, playing an interactive game firing staples and pushpins at him, and of course getting saturated with ad come-ons for XP.

Also featured are animated clips exploiting the appropriately irritating voice of Gilbert Gottfried as the hated Clippy.

"Next to Microsoft Bob, you are the most annoying thing in computer history," a frustrated user tells him in one scene. In another, user voice-overs seem to read from Bill Gates' reams of hate mail verbatim, denouncing Clippy as "moronic", ranting and stopping just short of threatening violence if it ever interrupts them again, and the like.

As for the flip side -- promoting Office XP -- there are links now from all of MS' sites to the Clippy site, and links from there to a Flash demo, and a trial version good for 30 days and costing $9.95.

Additionally, the Office XP "Fast Facts" page warmed our hearts with its wholesome image of two sweetly-smiling users -- a black man and a white woman clearly delighted by "productivity made simple," and subtly suggestive, by its omission, that a white guy could probably noodle out a less than idiot-proof application on his own. ®

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