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About WebTV® and MSN® TV

MSN TV and WebTV let you send email to friends and family, and surf the Internet -- all from your TV. The service is now provided by MSN TV but the hardware was still called WebTV until 2004 when the MSN TV2 units started shipping.

Please do not contact me with WebTV questions. All I know is on this page.

Looking for MSN TV or WebTV service? Click here.


The new MSN TV 2 Internet & Media Player features include: broadband or wireless home network compatibility, online radio, the ability to view digital photos on television, or streaming Windows Media-compatible video and audio content.

If you already have Internet access through a broadband connection or home network, the MSN TV 2 Internet & Media Player provides an affordable, additional Internet access point for another family member.

If you don't have Internet access at home and you want easy and convenient e-mail and Internet access on your TV, all you need to do is purchase an MSN TV 2 Internet & Media Player, and then connect it to your television and either your phone line or your broadband outlet.

WebTV History in Brief

In September, 1996, Sony and Phillips introduced the first WebTV set-top boxes from WebTV Networks, Inc. They became known as WebTV Classic, sometimes called the WebTV Internet Terminal. In December 1997, a second generation of set-top box was introduced, which is known as the WebTV Plus. The new unit includes a TV tuner and integrates the TV and Web worlds.

In August of 1997, Microsoft Corp bought WebTV Networks, Inc. In December 1998, Microsoft began expanding WebTV Networks' offering by offering television-based software platform products and associated network services in order to deliver a complete digital solution for cable system operators and broadband service providers.

WebTV Classic and Plus service consists of two parts: the WebTV Reference Design, on which WebTV licensees such as Sony and Philips base their boxes, and the WebTV Network, a subscription-based online service that is an essential part of what makes the TV-based Web browser feasible.

Both the WebTV Classic and the WebTV Plus use versions of a proprietary browser. This browser is secure (128-bit SSL encryption) and supports most functionality offered by Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Navigator Gold. A key difference, though, is that the WebTV browser manipulates text and images so that they look better on a TV screen. Without WebTV's technology, text would flicker on a TV screen and be very difficult to read.

In January 1999, WebTV Networks, Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp. announced the WebTV Personal TV service for Satellite. Also, WebTV Networks, Inc. announced its continued work with industry leaders in advertising, broadcasting and content creation for the acceleration and adoption of interactive television. HBO, KCTS-TV, MSNBC and The Weather Channel have now committed to developing new or extended interactive content and services - directly related to their popular television shows - for the Microsoft® WebTV Network™ Plus service and the WebTV™ for Windows® feature of Windows 98.

In 2001 WebTV Networks sold their subscriber base to Microsoft and ceased to exist. At its peak, there were more than 1 million subscribers.

In late 2004 Microsoft introduced MSN TV2 which is capable of broadband access and allowed the use of a mouse.

In 2005 additional support for playing music and video files, listening to Internet radio stations, and viewing and managing photos was added.


Here is good information from Wikipedia about the history of WebTV and MSN TV.

Official WebTV sites:

Here's a page of WebTV Keyboard Shortcuts. I don't know if these work with MSN TV2.

Here are some interesting WebTV sites:

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Microsoft, MSN TV, WebTV Network, WebTV and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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