/// Microsoft Quietly Shuts Down MSN TV, Once Known as WebTV

July 7, 2013  |  All Things Digital


Microsoft said that its MSN TV service will be closing down at the end of September, in a post on its Web site and in an email to users. MSN TV, of course, was born of WebTV, which was thought up by well-known entrepreneur Steve Perlman. The software giant bought it at the height of the Web 1.0 boom in mid-1997, paying $503 million. The service, which included a dedicated hardware device attached to a television, went through a number of iterations over the years, including being rebranded as MSN TV in 2001. Some of its technology went into the Xbox, but — in general — its recent history was one of dwindling users. Microsoft’s TV unit also went on to do Mediaroom, software for set-top boxes used by AT&T for U-verse. That business is in the process of being sold to Ericsson (and probably explains the timing of this shut down). There are still a number of devices that hook to TVs and deliver content, including Roku and Apple TV. Apple’s Tim Cook said in an interview at the recent D: All Things Digital conference that the interactive TV arena, “continues to be an area of great interest to us.” “When you look at the TV experience, it’s not an experience that I think very many people love,” Cook said. “It’s not one that has been brought up to date for this decade. It’s still an experience much like 10 years ago or 20 years ago.” But the business was over at MSN TV. Said Microsoft: “WebTV (later called MSN TV) started in 1996 with the goal to bring new people ‘online’ and to give those already online an easy, hassle-free means of accessing the internet from the comfort of their homes. Later, MSN TV 2 was released with vastly greater power and features. Since then, the web has continued to evolve at a breathtaking pace, and there are many new ways to access the internet. Accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to end the MSN TV service on September 30th, 2013. We are working with our customers to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.” And here’s an email sent to existing subscribers: Dear MSN TV Subscriber, For the past decade, we have been excited to build products that provided our customers with easy access to the Internet on TV. Unfortunately, all good things must eventually come to an end. Today we are announcing that we will be closing the MSN TV service. The last day of the MSN TV service will be September 30, 2013

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Microsoft Quietly Shuts Down MSN TV, Once Known as WebTV



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