MSN TV, Microsoft’s web browsing set-top box, has finally been sent up north, to live out its life at a ranch with a bunch of other outdated technologies. Yes, it’s officially discontinued as of today.
Now, if you want to browse the Internet from the comfort of your couch, you’ll need to hook your computer up to one of the TV’s video ports, use a Smart TV or fire up your game console, rather than pay a monthly subscription fee to have an aging piece of hardware do that.
Web TV was a set-top box that was designed to introduce people to the Internet through their televisions, and allowing them to browse the Internet from the comfort of their couch using dial-up. Microsoft bought Web TV in 1997 and rebranded the service as MSN TV, releasing the MSN TV 2 in 2004, which added email and messaging capabilities.
But the real question is: why did Microsoft kill this product that they hadn’t updated in almost a decade?
“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,” Microsoft said in its FAQ about the shutdown.
Or, to put it another way, it seems like people just aren’t using it anymore.
At the time of its introduction, Web TV was notable because it used strong encryption, which in the mid-90s was enough to get it classified as a weapon and restrict its exports to foreign countries.
Now, it seems, the only reason it’ll be exported is to go to an e-waste recycler. So farewell, MSN TV. We won’t really miss you, because I’m pretty sure just about everybody forgot you were still around.