msntvMicrosoft is shutting down MSN TV, turning off the service to users on September 30 as the company continues its focus on Xbox. The decision comes 16 years after Microsoft bought WebTV for $425 million, the forerunner of MSN TV.

The service included a dedicated hardware device which allowed users to access the Internet — including email and photos — from their TVs.

In a FAQ on its Web site, Microsoft writes:

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.

Kara Swisher at All Things D notes that the closure comes as Apple looks to put more resources into interactive TV through Apple TV, a device that competes with Roku and others. Microsoft also continues to bolster the Xbox as a way to strengthen its position in the family room, with the new Xbox One device slated to be released later this year.

And what happens to the old MSN TV devices once service concludes? Microsoft says customers can hang on to them or recycle them.

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  • Guest

    Congrats and happy trails to MSN TV. $425 mil may sound like a lot of money to invest, but at 5 million subscribers paying $22 a month, MSN TV made the company 1,760,000,000 over 16 years. Very nice!

    • Guest

      $425M was just what MS paid to acquire WebTV. MS likely spent at least that much again operating it. There’s insufficient information to know if they even broke even overall, far less made a profit.

  • Guest

    Swisher’s article is really slanted. She introduces Apple into a story about this MS decision w/o bothering to note the huge ongoing investment in Xbox as a TV delivery vehicle. Instead she talks about how Apple sees a big opportunity in interactive TV while implying that MS doesn’t, as evidenced by this decision.

  • Guest

    You’d think a management team whose stock had been dead money for thirteen years, would have long since put a bullet into this service, which hasn’t been part of the company’s strategic direction for more than half a decade. But alas, this management team is nothing if not unfocused and slow.

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