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No Joke, Microsoft Bans April Fools’ Day Pranks

March 27, 2019, 9:47 PM UTC

Don’t expect any awesome April Fools’ Day pranks from Microsoft this year.

While corporate pranks can be funny, and generate a lot of positive, viral attention for companies, they can also backfire. Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, said April Fools’ Day tricks aren’t worth the risk.

“I appreciate that people may have devoted time and resources to these activities, but I believe we have more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day,” Capossela said in a memo obtained by The Verge.

Microsoft used to participate in the time-honored tradition of April Fools’ Day pranks. In past years, the company has mocked Google’s simple look, by turning its Bing search engine into a lookalike for the day. In 2015, Microsoft introduced MS-DOS mobile, a joke app that turned the operating system on Windows phones into the MS-DOS experience computers used in the 1980s.

While the day is full of usually lighthearted corporate pranks, some have backfired. In 2016, Google had to apologize after it added a mic-dropping Despicable Me minion to emails, which ended up muting threads, and causing email chaos for users.

But for Microsoft, being unfunny has come naturally of late. A few weeks ago, Microsoft briefly revived, and again killed, Clippy, the hammy, interrupting paperclip mascot that served as an assistant in Microsoft Office during the 1990s. Despite a petition signed by Microsoft users, a spokesperson said Clippy isn’t getting his old job back.