Microsoft’s iconic Clippy assistant for Office is making a big comeback on Windows 11, but in another form. Rather than bringing back Clippy as another digital assistant, the iconic character will instead replace the standard paperclip emoji in Microsoft’s Windows 11 operating system. Clippy’s return is part of Microsoft’s latest November 2021 Windows 11 Insider preview build. Along with Clippy, there are also a number of new emojis that Microsoft is showing off.
The new emoji style that Microsoft is bringing to Windows 11 through this latest optional software update sports a 2D appearance compared to the 3D styles that were previously previewed. The company claims that the new emoji were created using its new Fluent design style, and its team of designers worked to make emoji scalable.
“These new Fluent-style emoji being released in Windows 11 today feel personal and familiar, two of our Windows 11 design principles,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post highlighting Clippy’s return and the importance of the use of emoji in communication. “A team of emoji designers, program managers, font experts, and developers focused on creating this new emoji system. From color palettes to modular features, designers built out a system that would scale to the expansive set of Unicode emoji. Windows 11 now offers a more modern and expressive emoji to use in your hybrid communications, allowing you to add fun, expression, and personality to your communications.”
The company had previously stated that it would be switching from 3D emoji to 2D emoji earlier this summer ahead of the launch of Windows 11, noting that it will animate many of the emoji on its platforms. With the new Windows 11 2D emoji, Microsoft is opting for a more modernized style, with bold colors and a simple, minimalist look to the emoji.
In a previous blog post, the company stated that these emoji will be exclusive to Windows 11, so Windows 10 users who won’t be upgrading to the latest OS will be out of luck.
According to technology publication The Verge, Microsoft may have had to resort to 2D styling because of technical limitations in what it is trying to achieve with its emoji and the color font format. Instead of using bitmaps like rival Apple, Microsoft is using vector formats to render its emoji, which provide benefits such as easy scalability and reduced file sizes when flatter, 2D images are used. And while 3D emoji may not make a systemwide appearance now that Microsoft has shown off its 2D emoji, The Verge still expects 3D and animated emoji to appear in some specific products, like Microsoft’s Teams app.
Microsoft is also working on fixing some widely publicized bugs that affect the operating system’s performance.