Microsoft’s gallery had an aesthetic, to be sure, and it wasn’t high art. But these images, cheesy as they are, were also incredibly useful in their time. It wasn’t easy to quickly find images in the dial-up age, and an entire industry of CD-ROMs you could buy for $50+ tried to fill that niche. You could buy those, or you could stick with what you already had: Microsoft’s clip art.
As an artist I resent some people's assumption that original art from my abilities and imagination, which I have sacrificed a lot to develop, should somehow default to public property. If we require artists to participate in a money economy their art belongs to them. Copying images and not following the copyright owners permissions to the letter is stealing, outright. And deep pockets like Disney has taught individuals that the hard way.
My school district doesn't allow students to access anything except Google; therefore, clipart is useless. More and more school districts and companies are blocking applications and websites to prevent access to inappropriate images and content. My first and second graders have always loved doing PowerPoints; however, with clipart no longer working, they cannot do these projects any longer. Older students access Google images to get graphics for their projects.