WebTV dies; long live WebTV

Microsoft has announced that the MSN TV service will close down at the end of September. MSN TV was once known as WebTV before Microsoft bought it in 1997 for $425 million. WebTV was invented by Steve Perlman, a highly visible entrepreneur.

Although the service itself has seen its userbase dwindle from its former glory days when it rivaled even American Online in size, the technology is not dead and will not die with its closure at the end of summer.

The underlying technology is found in the Microsoft XBox gaming system and in Mediaroom, a set-top box software used by AT&T for U-verse. The latter is being sold to Ericsson, so MS bowing out with their potential rival is good timing.

Of course, connecting televisions to the Internet is still very much on tech company’s radar. The popular Roku boxes are selling very well and Apple has made it clear that they are still vested in Apple TV.

Current MSN TV subscribers have received emails alerting them to the closure and giving instructions for preserving email accounts and the like through Microsoft’s Outlook system (itself formerly Hotmail) and SkyDrive offerings. A Closure FAQ explains details for customers and can be found here.

For Internet access, Microsoft has said that they will be offering special pricing to MSN TV subscribers for MSN Dial-up and Premium services and encourages TV users to buy a computer from the Microsoft Store.

Read the full email to MSN TV subscribers at AllThingsD.

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