Rumors surfaced last September that Clippy’s spiritual successor (actually named Clippit) was slated to appear in the next version of Office, known as Office 16. At that time, we were told that it would arrive as a modified version of the “Tell Me” helper currently found in Office Online apps but that may no longer be the case.

In what probably isn’t terribly surprising at this point, Microsoft is reportedly planning to have its virtual assistant Cortana serve double duty as your Office assistant.

Specifically, Microsoft is said to be working on a “Work Assistant” app that uses Cortana (or perhaps its backend) to open, edit and share documents using voice commands. Sources tell The Verge that it’s currently just a prototype but they plan to integrate it into Office across mobile and desktop platforms in the not-too-distant future.

The idea of Cortana arriving on Android and iOS is certainly intriguing although I suspect its functionality would be limited to Office applications, at least initially.

Another thought: could this be the top-secret Personal Agent project that Bill Gates has been working on?

For the uninitiated among us, Clippy was the nickname given to the annoying assistant that was built into earlier versions of Microsoft’s productivity suite. The tool – an animated paperclip – seemed to pop up at the most inopportune times to offer assistance. Fortunately, Cortana is much more subtle (and useful).