Microsoft finally closing MSN TV (formerly WebTV) on Sept. 30

Microsoft's first attempt to bring the Internet to TV screens is finally coming to an end. The MSN TV service will shut down on September 30th, closing a chapter in the company's life, during which it tried to offer a cheap web set top box combined with an Internet service.

The MSN TV page has a full FAQ on what the shutdown means to the remaining customers of the service. After September 30th, MSN TV subscribers can sign onto to get their email, contacts and any other information they have stored on their account.

The idea started with WebTV, which was founded in 1995 by Steve Perlman, who later launched the OnLive streaming game service. The first WebTV set-top boxes from Sony and Philips launched in 1996, along with the WebTV service that gave crude but simple access to email and the Internet via a dial up modem.

In 1997, Microsoft acquired WebTV for $425 million and tried to expand the service. While it made money for a little while, thanks mostly to the users needing a monthly subscription to access the service, Microsoft could not keep up with the rapidly changing pace of how people were accessing the Internet via broadband connections combined with cheaper laptops and desktops.

In 2001, Microsoft renamed WebTV to MSN TV and in 2004 it launched the MSN TV2 hardware and software service. However, it was too little too late, and the company soon stopped selling the hardware product, although the service itself stayed live for its remaining hardware users.

Of course, Microsoft has switched its TV set-top focus to the Xbox business and the upcoming launch of the Xbox One console represents the latest attempt by the company to merge the Internet with the living room TV experience.

Source: Microsoft via The Verge | Images via Microsoft and

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With IE on the Xbox 360, there is little reason to put any additional resources into such an old product. The few users displaced by this change will have a better experience with a localized ISP and a cheap Xbox 360 or Xbox One, let alone the cheaper upcoming tablets.

I used this service back in 1998. I had it connected to a 60in Magnavox rear projection television. Man I thought I was cool!

I saw it in action once and I was surprised people did what they could with it. It was rather crude, but more affordable than the average PC. The people who might still be using it probably are the few still on dail-up as well.

Hahaha I still have 2 client boxes in my shelf somewhere, one original WebTV and an almost unused MSN TV box.

I'm surprised they still had this service. I guess they're ready to move the 5 people who have WebTV up to Xbox One.

Haha.. I had WebTV way back in the day.. A roomate of mine had one, and that is when I first started creating web-pages, very limited though..

R.I.P..... but I'm glad they did and focusing their efforts and resources on their current products and services.

Wow, I had forgotten about those things. I can only imagine how bad of an Internet experience they offer now days. Of course, I don't think their Internet experience was that great to start with.

Could've been a good thing if the internet and computers hadn't starting advancing as fast as they did.

Was just talking with some one about webtv a few days ago wondering if it was still aorund.

I am surprised it was still.even around, I used to have one back in the day, got the one with the 2gb hard drive, had to get the keyboard too, browsing with a remote was terrible. All connected at 28.8kbps woo! !!