Redmond sure is one a bit of a closing spree lately. The recent retirements of several popular services surely seems like the technology titan is increasing its focus on things that matter.
From Hotmail to TechNet and now MSN TV — formerly known as WebTV — is coming to an end.
The company has announced that its MSN TV service will shut down on September 30, closing another notable chapter in Redmond’s history where it tried to offer an affordable web set top box that could be combined with an Internet service.
A Closure FAQ on the MSN TV website details what the shutdown entails for the few remaining customers of the service. Microsoft says that MSN TV subscribers can sign into Outlook.com after September 30 to get their email, contacts and other stored information on their account.
The roots of this service go back to WebTV, founded in 1995. Both Sony and Philips launched the first WebTV set top boxes in 1996 to go with the WebTV service that provided simple and basic access to email and Internet via a dial up modem.
Microsoft acquired WebTV for $425 million and actively tried to expand the service.
But the software titan faced a very strong challenge from the rapidly changing pace of how people were accessing the Internet via broadband — on laptops and desktops that were continually getting cheaper.
The company renamed the service to MSN TV in 2001, and launched the MSN TV2 hardware and software service in 2004, only to soon stopping selling the hardware product. The service, meanwhile, stayed on for remaining hardware users.
Microsoft has obviously shifted its focus to the Xbox business, and with Internet Explorer already available on the Xbox 360 it makes sense not to put additional resources into such an old product.