US software vendor Artisoft will shut its UK office tomorrow, citing pressure from Microsoft as the primary cause of its problems.
The closure will mean about 5,000 UK users of the company's software will have to get their support from the US. Artisoft's main product is LANtastic, a peer-to-peer networking product for small-to-medium businesses.
"Following the release of Windows 95, Artisoft noticed a gradual decline in its business and now with Windows 98 and, in due course, Window NT, the business has suffered further," said a source inside the UK office.
Jim Philips, senior director at Artisoft in the US, said: "Like Netscape with its Web browser, we have a far superior product in LANtastic for small-to-medium sized companies. We are in tune with this area and can do a better job, but Microsoft is a giant company and we have been forced to pull all our resources into the US business."
"With no UK presence it is going to be very hard for Artisoft to maintain its customer base," said Steve Bratt, manager of RSM networks, an Artisoft reseller in the UK. "Increasingly, I am being asked by my customers about NT and a considerable number of them are switching from LANtastic over to Microsoft's product."
Steve Rigby, UK sales manager at Qudis, one of Artisoft's main distributors, said: "It is going to be frustrating dealing with the company now that we only have the US office. It means speaking with them at awkward times of the day when our customers aren't working due to the time difference, but we're going to give them a chance and see how things go."
Artisoft is contracting Ready Crest, one of its UK resellers, to offer technical support for its products. However, Ready Crest currently only supplies one third of Artisoft's range. Artisoft claims it can offer technical support from its Web site.
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