Internet keyword company RealNames has shut down, blaming its demise on Microsoft.
Microsoft said it no longer wanted to put up with a technology that failed to deliver. But RealNames' chief executive Keith Teare said that the software giant had instead opted to deliver its own rival version of the software.
RealNames closed down on Monday, laying off 83 employees. According to a brief statement posted on its website, the decision followed Microsoft's choice not to renew its contract with the company. Having lost its "key distributor", RealNames said it made no sense to continue operations.
RealNames charged customers to register keywords recognised by Microsoft's dominant Internet Explorer browser that could then be used to search databases and the internet.
According to Microsoft its change of heart regarding RealNames's business came from the failure of the keyword technology to work effectively.
Microsoft, which owns a 20 per cent stake in RealNames, said that the technology was unintuitive and generating a growing number of complaints from users.
Friction between the companies came to a head when RealNames said it was unable to pay $25m due to Microsoft last Friday.
According to postings on Teare's personal website, RealNames suggested a $5m payment to Microsoft and said that if the contract was renewed the smaller company would be able to continue to build its business and repay its loan at a later date.
But Microsoft rejected this proposal, according to Teare, and said that even if the debt was repaid the contract would still not be renewed.
Teare insisted that Microsoft no longer supported the concept of keywords "because it cannot control it". He added that Microsoft had started developing its own variant of RealNames' technology.
"It is possible that, having learned much from RealNames, Microsoft will develop its own version of our resolution service," he said.
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