The Secret Origins of Clippy: Microsoft’s Bizarre Animated Character Patents

By  |  Friday, January 2, 2009 at 12:31 am

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Microsoft Bob Patent

Software Platform Having a Real World Interface With Animated Characters

Filed July 8th, 1994

Microsoft’s fascination with the idea of animated characters as software helpers first evidenced itself in Microsoft Bob, the legendary, legendarily bad front-end for Windows 3.1. That dog is Rover, the cursed canine who lived on to serve as the “Search Assistant” in Windows XP. (An article on Microsoft’s own site published when Windows XP was released says that some people “loathe” Rover–can you name another instance of any company anywhere using that word in conjunction with customer response to a new product?) One enduring mystery about this patent: Why did Microsoft call a program involving a talking mutt a “real world interface?”?

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