updated 11:30 am EDT, Fri November 5, 2010
Microsoft 'I'm A PC' worker Siler leaves the firm
Microsoft faced an unintentional but symbolic loss on Friday as Sean Siler, one of the key stars the "I'm A PC" ads, was confirmed to be leaving the company. In an e-mail sent out to co-workers, the IPv6 lead noted a "family situation" required that he move to the East coast and that Microsoft couldn't offer him a job in the area. He characterized the exit as amicable and saw the anti-Apple campaign as a defining moment, according to a Post-Intelligencer copy of the message.
"I was cutting grass in the summer of 1987 when my friend told me that DOS 3.3 just came in at our local computer store," he said in explaining why he first joined. "I barely got the lawnmower in the garage before we took off. On the way there, I told myself that I had to work for Microsoft one day. Any company that could get me that wound up was the place I wanted to work. [...] I have a lot of memories from my time at Microsoft, but the 'I'm a PC' commercial is the highlight. I really feel proud that I was able to be a visible part of the company's fight against Apple."
The ads were a direct reaction to Apple's "I'm A Mac" segments and their treatment of Windows, which made John Hodgman's character a lovable but flawed personification of the problems with Windows and its work-first stereotype. The response ads tried to destroy the stereotype by making Siler, dressed like a clone of Hodgman, just one of a much more diverse pool of users. The worker was picked in part because of how well he fit Hodgman's image.
The effectiveness of the "I'm A PC" ads has been debated but not significant. Apple has largely continued slight but steady gains and just this summer may have tied or passed Acer for US market share. Apple has grown faster than the industry average for much of the past two years or more, according to NPD figures.
Much of the ad campaign's work was also made somewhat redundant with the launch of Windows 7, which reduced the need for Microsoft to go on the defensive.