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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

September 19, 2008 at 7:34 AM

Microsofties star in Windows ‘I’m a PC’ commercial after winning ‘Windows Idol’

The next Windows ad doesn’t feature Seinfeld, but it does have Sean Siler. He’s a Microsoft senior program manager in networking and he’s one of five employees taking star turns in the first 60-second “I’m a PC” spot, which is set to hit the airwaves — and explode all over the web — when prime time shows including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Office” begin airing on the East Coast.

Watch it here.

Siler’s role is bound to be the most iconic. He bears a resemblance — intentionally exaggerated by Microsoft’s ad wizards at Crispon Porter + Bogusky — to John Hodgman’s PC character from the successful “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” campaign by Apple. This Microsoft “I’m a PC” spot is a clear counter to that campaign.

I thought Siler’s delivery is right on. “Hello. I’m a PC. And I’ve been made into a stereotype,” he says with a wave of the hand and a certain detachment.

I asked to interview Siler. No dice so far. Instead, we get this biographical info about him:

— He’s responsible for “helping Microsoft’s customers understand and deploy IPv6 [Internet Protocol version 6, a designated standard for things like addresses, and the successor to IPv4]. Previously he served as the IPv6 Technical Lead for Microsoft Federal. In both of these roles has been able to actively assist commercial industries, the Department of Defense, and Federal, State and Local Civilian, and many other agencies better understand and begin their migration to IPv6.”

— He began his IT career with the U.S. Navy as a Z-248 maintenance technician in 1989 and served for 12 years.

— He started working with Microsoft in early 2005.

Other Microsoft stars include: Uche Adegbite, program manager II, Zune; Feng Zhao, software development engineer; Shai Bassli, software development engineer in test, Internet Explorer; Jeff Smith, software development engineer, Networking.

More Microsofties, including the big Steves, will get into the online act, according to Mary Jo Foley:

“Starting tonight, Microsoft is going to be running user-generated content as part of the campaign on the Windows.com site. The first cameos will feature some well-known Softies (CEO Steve Ballmer, Windows development chief Steven Sinofsky and other lesser-knownMicrosoft employees) talking about how they use Windows. …

“One interesting tidbit: The Softies who are starring in Microsoft’s new phase of its campaign got in there by answering a casting call, Brad Brooks, Corporate Vice President of Windows Consumer Marketing, told me today. Several hundred employees in Sinofsky and Senior Vice President Jon DeVaan’s organizations responded and Microsoft held a ‘Windows Idol’ competition to select the individuals who are appearing in the new campaign.”

Update, 11:11 a.m.: An e-mail address for Sean Siler, sean@windows.com, flashes on the screen during the ad. I tried to send him an e-mail yesterday morning. Got no reply. Since then an auto-response has been turned on for the address, as others have discovered. Here’s what Siler says:

Hello! I’m a PC — and I can’t answer your email right now. I’d like to say that I’m out climbing Mt. Rainier or biking across Europe with the Swedish Beach Volleyball Team, but in fact I’m probably just chained to a desk somewhere in the depths of Redmond pounding out product specifications.

Now that I have been in a commercial, Microsoft has given me access to super-secret “BillyG” level of executive resources. That’s right — I have my own email auto-responder!

This, as you have probably surmised, is my pre-prepared auto-response (All natural, no filler. No animals were harmed in the making of this response. Except for a ferret.) I really would like to have answered you myself, but if I did, (a) I’d probably get no work done, and (b) then I’d get fired, and (c) then I’d have no chance of doing any more of those really awesome commercials.

So let me try to prognosticate a few of your questions and answer a few of them.

Why did they put you on TV?

I think it’s my devastating good-looks and animal magnetism. No, really — there’s a ferret stuck to my leg right now.

But really — you aren’t even an actor!

No I’m not. But I play one on TV. I really am a Microsoft Program Manager. I work on IPv6, and other things that you haven’t heard of.

How did you get selected?

I auditioned along with a couple of hundred others. I guess I looked very Engineery. And the ferret probably helped.

Are you interested in more acting?

Oh no, I think that Engineering is MUCH more fun.

What’s with Windows Vista?

You’ve been watching those commercials again, haven’t you? Windows Vista rocks. Listen to real users, not actors.

-The Real PC, Sean Siler

I’m curious whether that was written by Siler or CP+B. My guess is it’s the latter, or a collaboration. It’s worth noting that e-mail addresses are displayed for most if not all of the Microsoft employees in the ads, including Gates. I just sent him an e-mail. So far, no auto reply.

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