Paid Advertising
web application security lab

So Long Active Agent

Going down memory lane I decided to go back and look at Microsoft’s Active Agent. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, “Clippy” might sound more familiar. Clippy actually came much later. It all started with a little bird named “Peedy” the parrot. Peedy could read text, fly around, dance, look bored, and all kinds of stuff. It was scriptable, could be instantiated through a web-page and worked well in browsers that had the agent pre-installed (which was pretty much no one).

A few companies decided to try to create business models based on it - trying to read people’s emails for them, and other similar things. All doomed to failure and internet obscurity, although all very cool in their own way. Alas, as I was going and looking back at some old links I found this:

Microsoft has decided to discontinue development of Microsoft Agent technologies. Beginning with Windows® 7, Microsoft Agent will not be included or supported in future versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system. We encourage Microsoft Agent application developers and redistributors to evaluate their activities in light of this decision.

*sigh* Even though it never took off, Peedy will always have a place in my heart. Like that time we called up Bronc’s girlfriend and read off some ransom note we had crafted using Robby the robot’s text to speech. We laughed and laughed - until she called Bronc’s cell phone. You should have seen his face, “Hi honey. Yeah, we were just screwing around.” Man, that still cracks me up and yes he was in trouble. Yeah, we were dumb kids, but boy, Peedy and the gang will be missed! Farewell…

4 Responses to “So Long Active Agent”

  1. Spider Says:

    I’m ashamed to admit I worked on an agent. My boss thought it would be a great idea to have a comforting figure explaining the web application and guiding them through it. Luckily we were able to do a quick demo and test it with some potential customers that gave such negative feedback on it that we were able to convince our boss to scrap it.

  2. Rafal Los Says:

    Wasn’t this the “I see you’re writing a suicide note” (obviously fake) picture that circulated? Clippy was pretty funny… but I’m sticking with my eSheep (


  3. id Says:

    Never fear you’ll always be able to create your own

  4. Tom Says:

    I used Merlin just yesterday to teach beginning programmers. After learning the basics of program flow control, it was a great way to get them experiementing and playing around. “Okay, you got Merlin to call your friend a fool, now make him laugh 5 times using a loop!”