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Microsoft to shut down MSN TV service

Will let users keep novelty set top box
Mon Jul 08 2013, 10:49
Microsoft logo at its Redmond headquarters

SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft has decided to close its largely forgotten internet television service MSN TV on 30 September.

Microsoft bought Web TV at the height of the dotcom bubble and tried to use it as a way to deliver television and internet connectivity to users through an expensive set top box. The firm announced that it will finally discontinue the subscription service, noting that there are many other ways of accessing the internet rather than through a set top box.

Back in the late 1990s, Microsoft harboured ambitions of getting into television, perhaps most notably through its partnership with NBC to set up MSNBC. However the firm's dreams never really materialised into anything truly profitable and it is clear that MSN TV's set top box doesn't fit in well with Microsoft's next bid to become a big player in entertainment, the Xbox One.

Microsoft said in a statement that its decision was based on the fact that users can connect to the internet in many different ways. The firm said, "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 30 September 2013."

Microsoft said users can export data to its Outlook and Skydrive services but added that users can keep their set top boxes, which is nice since many paid more than $200 for the chance to fork over up to $20 a month to Microsoft. The firm said it will continue to offer the MSN dial-up internet service for free until the end of the year. µ


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