Microsoft to close down MSN TV on Sept. 30

The pioneering service came from the 1997 acquisition of WebTV Networks

Microsoft is shutting down on Sept. 30 its MSN TV service that allowed users to browse the Web from their TVs, as there are now new ways to access the Internet including mobile phones, tablets and its own Xbox console.

The Redmond, Washington, software giant acquired WebTV Networks for US$425 million in 1997 for its set-top box technology that allowed users to link to the Internet through their TV sets. It was later renamed as MSN TV, and a new version with more features and power, called MSN TV 2, was also launched.

"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 a post. "Accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to end the MSN TV service on September 30th, 2013," it added.

The move comes even as rival Apple is exploring ways of bringing more online content to TV sets through the Apple TV set-top box, an opportunity Samsung Electronics aims to cash in with its acquisition of assets and talent from video startup Boxee. While the focus of these ventures appears to be on entertainment in homes that have multiple devices besides TVs, the original WebTV aimed to bring the Internet, email and other services as a low-cost option for homes.

The last charge for MSN TV 2 customers will be on their regular bill cycle date in August. Users will thereafter be able to continue using the service through the last day on Sept. 30. Microsoft will continue to offer subscriptions for MSN Dial-up service, which can be used to connect to the Internet from a computer.

MSN TV 2 users will be able to access their emails using their previous id through Microsoft's webmail client, Outlook.com, after the MSN TV service is closed down. Favorites and photo albums will be saved on SkyDrive, though users have to convert their snaps into shared photos to be uploaded to the online storage service. Users have been given the option to keep the set-top box to access videos and music from a PC on their home networks, or discard it by using a recycling service.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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