Microworkz, the firm that kicked off the free PC movement, is reported to have closed, and is unlikely to reappear.
The troubled vendor, which last month revealed it had dropped the hardware side of its business to concentrate on software, is being managed by a group of unnamed attorneys while it tries to sell the intellectual property behind its iToaster Internet products and fights in the law courts.Rick Latman, chairman of Microworkz, admitted: "Microworkz has closed."The company launched back in April with the offer of a PC for $299 (£187), providing the customer signed up to ISP EarthLink for 12 months, itself costing $240. Interest in the PC was huge and Microworkz found itself with more orders than it could handle.Complaints about the vendor flooded in following the offer, claiming warranties were not honoured, customer inquiries were not answered, or that the PCs never arrived and refunds were not provided.These complaints have led to legal action by Washington state Attorney General Christine Gregorie on behalf of 95 customers (PC Dealer, 10 November).It is also believed that Microworkz is under investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission.One of the main tasks facing those left handling the company is to sell the intellectual property of iToaster.Latman, however, is reported to have said there may not be a market for the product anymore as other technologies catch up and pass the machine.Consoles such as Dreamcast and the forthcoming PlayStation II offer Internet access and are comparable in price to the iToaster.
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