Microsoft Shutting Down WebTV-Successor MSN TV On September 30
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
MSN TV, the pioneering service that first sought to combine television and the Internet, will be shutting down at the end of September, various media outlets reported on Sunday.
Originally known as WebTV, MSN TV was founded by Quicktime and OnLive creator Steve Perlman in 1996, according to CNET‘s Steven Musil. The service, which allowed subscribers to use their television sets to browse the Web and send e-mail, was acquired by Microsoft for $425 million in 1997 and rebranded MSN TV in 2001, he added.
In a statement, Microsoft said WebTV was originally created “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. 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.”
According to Timothy J. Seppala of Engadget, the company will be giving current MSN TV subscribers free access to their all-in-one MSN Premium Web service through the end of the year. Users will be required to change over to Outlook email accounts and copy any stored content (including photos and bookmarks) to SkyDrive before October 1 he added.
“WebTV was, like so many inventions, born of necessity,” David Pierce, Senior Reviews Editor with The Verge, said. “Perlman needed a graphical display for his PC, so he hacked into the one he already owned – his television. The resulting product was a crude mix of set-top box and home theater PC.”
“In a way, it was Google TV long before Google TV. Before Google, even,” he added. “The WebTV kit (box, keyboard, remote) browsed the web and checked email without requiring a lot of extra and expensive hardware. That idea – marrying your TV and the internet – remains potent, as companies like Boxee, Roku, Aereo, and the like try to crack the same code.”
Pierce said many of WebTV’s original innovations will live on in Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One video game console. As for the service itself, Seppala said it was “inevitable” it would eventually shut down, but that “we can’t help feeling at least a little nostalgic for the service’s 640 x 480 view of the web.”