MSN TV

MSN TV (formerly WebTV) was a web access product consisting of a thin client device that used a television for display (instead of using a computer monitor), and the online service that supported it. The device design and service was developed by WebTV Networks, Inc., a company started in 1995. The WebTV product was announced in July 1996 and later released on September 18, 1996. In April 1997, the company was purchased by Microsoft Corporation and in July 2001, was rebranded to MSN TV and absorbed into MSN.

MSN TV
FormerlyWebTV (September 1996 - April 1997)
Microsoft WebTV (April 1997 - July 2001)
TypeWholly owned subsidiary
IndustryWeb access
FoundedJuly 1995; 27 years ago (1995-07)
FoundersSteve Perlman
Bruce Leak
Phil Goldman
DefunctSeptember 30, 2013 (2013-09-30)
Headquarters,
United States
Number of employees
70 (1996)
ParentMicrosoft

While most thin clients developed in the mid-1990s were positioned as diskless workstations for corporate intranets, WebTV was positioned as a consumer product, primarily targeting those looking for a low-cost alternative to a computer for Internet access. The WebTV and MSN TV devices allowed a television set to be connected to the Internet, mainly for web browsing and e-mail. The WebTV/MSN TV service, however, also offered its own exclusive services such as a "walled garden" newsgroup service, news and weather reports, storage for user bookmarks (Favorites), IRC (and for a time, MSN Chat) chatrooms, a Page Builder service that let WebTV users create and host webpages that could later be shared to others via a link if desired, the ability to play background music from a predefined list of songs while surfing the web, dedicated sections for aggregated content covering various topics (entertainment, romance, stocks, etc.), and a few years after Microsoft bought out WebTV, integration with MSN Messenger and Hotmail. The setup included a thin client in the form of a set-top box, a remote, a network connection using dial-up, or with the introduction of Rogers Interactive TV and the MSN TV 2, the option to use broadband, and a wireless keyboard, which was sold optionally up until the 2000s.

The WebTV/MSN TV service lasted for 18 years, shutting down on September 30, 2013, and allowing subscribers to migrate their data well before that date arrived.

The original WebTV network relied on a Solaris backend network[1] and telephone lines to deliver service to customers via dial-up, with "frontend servers" that talk directly to boxes using a custom protocol, the WebTV Protocol (WTVP), to authenticate users and deliver content to boxes.[2] For the MSN TV 2, however, a completely new service based on IIS servers and regular HTTP/HTTPS services was used.


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