Steven Musil, writing for CNET:
Microsoft is pulling the plug on MSN TV, a service formerly known as WebTV, as Apple ramps up its set-top box efforts.
The pioneering service, one of the first to offer Internet access via television sets, will shut down September 30, Microsoft revealed in an e-mail to subscribers and an FAQ posted to its Web site. WebTV, which was founded by Web entrepreneur Steve Perlman in 1996, was acquired by Microsoft for $425 million in 1997.
WebTV offered television-based e-mail and Web browsing via wireless keyboards but struggled to gain traction with consumers. Microsoft rebranded the service as MSN TV in 2001 to accelerate integration with products such as MSN Messenger and MSN Hotmail.
Reading this story brought back memories for me, as a close friend of mine had MSN TV circa 2002. He had the box hooked up to his big-screen TV, and I remember being amazed at how cool it was that you could surf the Internet from the couch. In fact, I was at one point tempted to get MSN TV for myself, but instead opted for an Xbox --- which I still have to this day.