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Microsoft Says Goodbye To WebTV/MSN TV

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the so-long dept.

Microsoft 92

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has just notified both subscribers of MSN TV that the service would be ending at the end of September (FAQ for subscribers here). The service, which delivered Internet access to a TV screen via a set top box, was the evolution of WebTV Networks launched by Steve Perlman and others during the initial Web boom in the mid '90s. Microsoft bought the company for $503 million in 1997, when Bill Gates was still CEO."

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92 comments

I owned MSN TV (5, Interesting)

A Huge Loud Fart (2975425) | about 9 months ago | (#44209325)

I owned MSN TV and it was one of the best services of all time. So long, you will be missed...

Re:I owned MSN TV (5, Funny)

cyrano.mac (916276) | about 9 months ago | (#44209491)

"Microsoft has just notified both subscribers of MSN TV..." So who's the other one?

Re:I owned MSN TV (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209631)

You misread. They notified both of the remaining subscribers to MSN TV.

Re:Microsoft has just notified both subscribers of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44241443)

Dear MSN TV Subscriber,

        For the past decade, we have been excited to build products that provided our customers with easy access to the Internet on TV. Unfortunately, all good things must eventually come to an end. Today we are announcing that we will be closing the MSN TV service. The last day of the MSN TV service will be September 30, 2013. We want this transition to be as smooth as possible for you. This letter explains what you need to do before the service ends if you want to have access to your email, favorites, Scrapbook photos, Page Builder pages, and any other data.

        Before the MSN TV service ends, you need to make sure that all the users on your account have upgraded to Outlook.com (formerly called Hotmail), saved any favorites and Scrapbook photos to SkyDrive, and archived any published Page Builder web pages that you wish to save. We have created an MSN TV Closure FAQ that provides detailed information on how to do all of these. Please read it at http://www.msntv.com/msntv/ClosureFAQ.asp.

        After you have upgraded to Outlook.com, your MSN TV email address, along with your existing email, will continue to be available for you to use. Outlook.com offers many advantages, such as accessing your email from a computer or smartphone that has a connection to the Internet. From a computer or smartphone, you can accessOutlook.com by visiting http://www.outlook.com.

        If you would like access to your favorites and Scrapbook photos after the MSN TV service ends, you will need to copy them to SkyDrive before the service ends. SkyDrive provides storage in the cloud, so you can easily access and store your favorites and photos all in one place and sync with other devices. You can also share your photos on SkyDrive with family and friends. You can learn more about SkyDrive at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/skydrive/overview from a computer or smartphone.

        To ease the transition and help ensure you maintain Internet access, we will be providing some special offers for both the MSN Dial-up and Premium services. You will need a computer, Microsoft account, and active MSN TV subscription. Visit http://get.msn.com/msntv.aspx to view and sign up for one of these offers.

        Many of you already have a computer for accessing the Internet. For those of you who do not, we recommend visiting the Microsoft Store for a wide variety of device options. Go to http://www.microsoftstore.com.

        We want to sincerely thank you for your continued support of the MSN TV service over the years. We have enjoyed bringing this technology to such loyal customers.

        If you have any questions that are not answered in the MSN TV Closure FAQ, you can contact Customer Support at 800-469-3288 between 6 am – 8 pm PST. Again, we want to thank you for your support and commitment to Microsoft products.

The MSN TV Team

Re:I owned MSN TV (-1, Troll)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 9 months ago | (#44209917)

I owned MSN TV and it was one of the best services of all time. So long, you will be missed...

Poor bastard - Modded to -1 simply for saying he liked something that does not have Slashdot GroupThink approval.

[Sits quietly and waits for mod-down to 'troll']

Re:I owned MSN TV (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44210229)

You MS fanboys sure have a persecution complex.

Re:I owned MSN TV (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44212213)

Still not as bad as those Apple Asshats.

Re:I owned MSN TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44214723)

What is it with you microsoft guys that you always seem to end any discussion with name-calling? What's up with that, running out of arguments?

Re:I owned MSN TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44211431)

What is this +4 interesting mod nonsense, "thou shalt not speak ill of the dead"? I've never heard of this service before and I'd wager I'm not in the minority.

More info instead of borderline shilling would be appreciated.

Re: I owned MSN TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44212315)

Apparently you were sleeping during the time when many major companies were bringing out appliances to make we surfing available to those without computers. How old are you? Too busy reading the enquirer to keep up on major changes happening during theses early "web" years?

Re: I owned MSN TV (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#44214701)

So, they were bringing out computers to make web surfing available to those who previously didn't have them? How original of them!

Re: I owned MSN TV (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 9 months ago | (#44215127)

They were/are more like websurfing 'consoles'. Comparatively slow, with clunky interfaces - a fair number of people still use webtv. They never used a computer and now have to learn since these services are going away.

Re: I owned MSN TV (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#44216955)

That was tongue in cheek. Obviously my cheek was so puffed out that I was mumbling and hard to understand :)

I've recently run into webtv's portal page and it's like instant travel back in time by a decade at least. These days a webtv would be basically Raspberry Pi with chromium OS or somesuch.

Re: I owned MSN TV (2)

saleenS281 (859657) | about 9 months ago | (#44220671)

My grandmother-in-law has one. The reason it's a step back a decade is because their target market doesn't like change for the sake of change. It worked for it's intended audience. A rasberry pi with chromium requires learning something new... easy when you're technically literate and 30 years old, difficult when you're 85 and haven't the faintest clue how to use a modern desktop.

Re: I owned MSN TV (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#44220875)

I wonder how hard would it be to write the Javascript necessary for the Chromium OS to mimic the old experience - within reason of course. It should not choke on modern content :)

Re:I owned MSN TV (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 9 months ago | (#44213535)

I'm not terribly surprised. I've only seen two in use ever, and that was back around 2000.. I was pretty sure it had just died off around then. I'm surprised anyone was still using one.

I guess whoever is still paying for a subscription on a long since dead box won't have to worry about it for long.

Re:I owned MSN TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44212907)

Does it still Play for Sure?

And the world asked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209383)

...So?

Whatever you use ... (4, Insightful)

lord_rob the only on (859100) | about 9 months ago | (#44209399)

The company that develops your product might decide to drop its support and you're screwed.

Re:Whatever you use ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209563)

After around 15 years?

I think I'd consider that depreciated out, either you got your value for your money by now, or it was always a waste for you.

Though FWIW, many places require a certain minimum time of support for a product, not just warranty, but having parts available and so forth.

Re:Whatever you use ... (3, Interesting)

Howitzer86 (964585) | about 9 months ago | (#44213701)

Depends on the device. I own a Sega Genesis, a 22 year old machine, that I still play from time to time. It was made before the dawn of internet dependance, thus, as long as I have the game cartridges, I will be able to play the console.

An Xbox One or PS3 (or PC) may have some game you like that 22 years from now you won't be able to play because the support servers were shut down. Hell, the situation also covers content creation software like Photoshop CS2, which resulted in Adobe making a mess of things and accidentally releasing the un-DRM'd software to the general public. I doubt Microsoft will bother, 15 years from now many people will still care but the outcry wouldn't be great enough to prevent the death of the entire system. We are lucky to have managed that pre-emtively, but we'll have to live with the reality that some of the games and software that we buy simply have an end-date.

It's worth caring about, at least in principal.

Re:Whatever you use ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44215609)

Reason 189 to use OpenSource Software.

Re:Whatever you use ... (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | about 9 months ago | (#44217783)

It's worth caring about, at least in principal.

It is absolutely worth caring about.

We are effectively going backwards in technology, at least from the consumer standpoint.

Look at the latest version of MS Office. You are required to have internet access even to write a simple text document. The average user has had that ability since the early 1980's (beginning of the desktop/Apple II/PCjr era), and way before that for the technically inclined (Commodore/Amiga/etc.).

Open Source too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209697)

Linux dropped support for my Core 2 Solo laptop because the ACPI hacks were too inconvenient to maintain. I can only run older kernels or Windows XP/7/8 on it.

Re:Open Source too (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209871)

Naturally, a properly commercially developed and backwards compatible operating system works with your older hardware. Probably had the drivers built in. Linux on the other hand, a fucking putrid disaster on the desktop.

Disclosure: I pirate all of my Windows, so they're free. I run linux on more devices in my home than I run Windows (phones, routers, other embedded devices, etc.).

Re:Open Source too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209921)

FreeBSD for servers, Windows for desktops, Linux for tablets and Mac OS for laughing at.

Re:Open Source too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44210297)

Disclosure: I pirate all of my Windows, so they're free.

If you think linux is a disaster, look in the mirror. You steal $39.00 software. Your father must be proud to hàve raised such a pathetic stooge.
I suspect that you also have not "given back" one iota to the free software movement either.
I hope you die soon. Really. The thought of society laboring under a parasite like you is depressing.
Dishonorable shitbag. Nothing in your life will amount to anything but a bigger pile of shit.

Re:Open Source too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44214733)

Microsoft shills just cannot stop swearing and cursing, Must be related to their intelligence.

Re:Open Source too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44214769)

If that's true, then you should have posted your comment in reply to a shill, not someone who just thinks you should pay for things you use.

Re:Open Source too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44215235)

Note that those 'older kernels' still get security fixes though.

Roku (4, Insightful)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 9 months ago | (#44209919)

Assume Amazon, Netflix, etc., etc., go out of business, I can still use Plex or Playon to stream movies off my own LAN.

The really bad thing that would happen is the death of DVDs. DVDs were the single greatest thing to ever happen to the "public domain," copyright be damned.

Re:Roku (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#44210381)

Yeah, Having a DVD or a CD in the case of music is the best thing for the public domain. There's so many works out there that were lost, or that we just don't have a good copy of. CDs and DVDs (after we broke the encryption) allow us to keep pristine copies of the original material. Many of the records that my parents had in their young adult years are unplayable, or don't sound as good as they originally did. People complain about the sounds quality of mp3s but they sound a lot better than a record that got left out in the sun. In 100 years It might be hard for artists to make money, because they'll be so much stuff in the public domain and there will be awesome copies of all of it. Imagine if copyright was only 14 years as originally was. Basically everything before 1999. Think about all that free content you could listen to and watch to your hearts content. Would you really want to spend a significant amount of money on music or movies?

Re:Roku (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 9 months ago | (#44217969)

People always want to watch, read, or listen to new stuff. Otherwise the arts would have died off since we already have centuries of public domain works. How come kids aren't content to just watch Shakespeare over and over, or have Bach raves?

Re:Roku (3, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 9 months ago | (#44210485)

Assume Amazon, Netflix, etc., etc., go out of business, I can still use Plex or Playon to stream movies off my own LAN.

The really bad thing that would happen is the death of DVDs. DVDs were the single greatest thing to ever happen to the "public domain," copyright be damned.

And now you know why the media companies want the DVD to die. As long as you can play it whenever you want, they can't monetize it.

Re:Whatever you use ... (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 9 months ago | (#44214499)

Well, no. If they tie your product rigidly to some server of theirs, yes it might, but really that's a design flaw. A device which you can put in and use settings other than just company sanctioned ones will work years after the original company has long since disappeared.

Re:Whatever you use ... (1)

lord_rob the only on (859100) | about 9 months ago | (#44214647)

*CAN* work, everything is designed to break after a given period of time nowadays and nothing is repaired anymore. Ever heard of planned obsolescence?
Of course it won't change anything if you're no more covered by your warranty, but what if you are still covered?

XBox One competition (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209421)

Of course, WebTV is direct competition to XBox One media center, they really don't want to support the old one anymore.

Re: XBox One competition (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209507)

Lol I ported Linux to the MSNTV.

-cmw

Re: XBox One competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44211565)

Yeah, I remember

--sky

Re:XBox One competition (2)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 9 months ago | (#44209517)

By that reasoning, maybe WebTV was the reason why they didn't give the Xbox a web browser until last year... something the Sega Dreamcast had out of the box, back in 1999.

Re:XBox One competition (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#44210195)

I suspect this may be to avoid concerning parents. Give a device a web browser and an internet connection, and there will be porn. Lots of minors have xbox consoles in their bedrooms. Put the two together and in about four months you'd start seeing the tabloids running with 'Microsoft turned my son into a porn addict' and the self-appointed guardians of family values would be claiming Microsoft is enabling pedophiles somehow.

Then again... (3, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | about 9 months ago | (#44209573)

...the umpteenth set-top box business model that collapses. Siemens is trying, at this moment, in Central Europe. Why do companies try this business model so often, where it has shown only one consistency, namely that of failure everywhere ?

Re:Then again... (2)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about 9 months ago | (#44209667)

People want a pc on their tv. It's that simple. The browser in my ps3 sucks, and MSNtv/webtv have shitty limitations. THe main issue with webconnected set top boxes is the user input always SUCKS. come up with a good UI and win the race.

Re:Then again... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 9 months ago | (#44209839)

You a UI / GUI developer ? I am a good server-side and distributed stuff developer. Wanna team up ?

Re:Then again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44210501)

I'm good at marketing and finance, and it's the internet so we don't need to be in the same place. it's GO time!

Re:Then again... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 9 months ago | (#44210609)

If you provided the general public with a name and an email address, your statement might just be slightly more confidence-inspiring than random, anonymous belchings...

Re:Then again... (3, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 9 months ago | (#44210043)

The idea behind set-top boxes is reasonable: a simple cheap device for people who have little use for a full-blown PC. But they used to be so extremely limited in matters of processing power, storage, customizability... to the point that they were not good enough even for those people. Now look at any Android mini-PC that you can get off eBay for $50, it's something completely different. I guess we finally got to the point where set-top boxes can be made good enough and cheap enough.

Re:Then again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44210783)

Good idea: Simple system which allows grandma to safely browse the web and read email. (see iPad)

Bad idea: Trying to do this on a TV set.

Re:Then again... (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 9 months ago | (#44211181)

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with doing it on a TV with a set-top box so long as the TV's got enough resolution. No reason to support anything less than 720p these days, since the 'net has moved on.

Re:Then again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44211807)

Sorry, it's been tried for years and nobody has ever invented a decent "10 foot UI" for web browsing. It sucks.

Re:Then again... (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 9 months ago | (#44212187)

Don't bother, then. I've done web browsing on a TV connected to an ordinary PC running Windows many times and it's not horrible.

Re:Then again... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 9 months ago | (#44215085)

The resolution isn't the problem, it's zoomability. The iPhone revolutionized mobile web browsing - and all the other smartphones have caught up. We need something that works just as well on a remote control. There's also CSS3/HTML5 provisions for multiple resolutions, but I don't know how they handle a viewport that's the same resolution of a desktop computer, but viewed from 10 feet away.

Goodbye my youth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209603)

WebTV was my first introduction to the internet. We were too poor to afford both a new computer and an internet connection. I learned that using only a keyboard in a GUI is unpleasant. I learned that dial-up really is objectively slow. I learned that internet chatrooms are a place for desperate people to reach each other either for sex or for trolling purposes. I learned that internet porn is really something special. I learned that lesson a lot.

I also learned that spilling a beverage on a keyboard does in fact break it. So thats one experiment you don't need to try at home.

Re:Goodbye my youth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209923)

I remember back in the days that CNN had community forums, they were some of the most popular on the Web, up there with Craigslist. That was maybe 15 years ago. I guess they got tired of policing the posts for TOU violations. Anyway, you could always tell the WebTV posters because their posts were ALL CAPS and they were usually broken syntax Tea Party-style rants against liberals, government and welfare, with some uses of the N-word, etc.

RIP MSN (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209647)

One of the few only good sites to Microsoft.

Microsoft are insane to have given up on their social projects like that, MSN Spaces was wonderful at the time, then they slowly destroyed it and made it less useful and more obtuse because "muh internet explorer is the best".
If only the current IE ecosystem was alive back then, maybe they wouldn't be so out of touch with users because they'd be focusing on features rather than trying to kill off any other users using it reliably.
Then they kill MSN and replace it with Skype. SKYPE. About as social as "mmm, uhh, hmm" and other such wonderful noises, and then awkward silence.
Not to mention considerably more broken than MSN ever was. Had nothing but trouble since Skype5. And the memory and CPU for a bloody chat client with video. Oh yeah it is all about the botnets and spying and PRISM I forgot.

Microsoft just do not get people.
And now they are also pissing off their biggest income: business users.
Oh, and just recently, the smaller business users with killing TechNet.
And that is going to bounce on towards the education sector and piss all over it.

And now there is the push towards Hardware and Services. Gotta looooove that Windows Phone. And those wonderful Windows 8 tablets that nobody is buying. Death of the PC. Pfft aha that will go so well.
I'm calling the death of Microsoft as a "giant" by 2017. After that it will become another AOL, hanging on for dear life doing... I have no idea what the actual hell they even do now. All I know is those silly tech help ads keep playing with that guy that looks like Robert Webb. [wikipedia.org].
If not, then they might finally fire that bald monkey and replace him with someone smart and fix the once actually fairly decent company gone corrupt.

MSN isn't going away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209959)

Just MSN TV.

Remembering Phil Goldman, WebTV cofounder (-1, Offtopic)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 9 months ago | (#44209791)

The guy across the hall from me my first year at Princeton: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Goldman [wikipedia.org]
"Phillip York "Phil" Goldman (July 17, 1964 -- December 26, 2003) was an American engineer and entrepreneur best known for co-founding WebTV. ... Growing up in San Mateo, California, Goldman attended San Mateo High School graduating in 1982.[1] He graduated first in his engineering class, Phi Beta Kappa, from Princeton University in 1986 [1], in a class that also included Jeff Bezos and David Hitz, founder of NetApp. He served as chair of Princeton's Computer Science Advisory Council, and in 1998, Goldman donated $2 million to his alma mater to endow a chair, becoming the youngest alumnus ever to do so. Goldman would go on to hold 19 patents, and had 30 more pending at the time of his death. ... Goldman also served as a director of BraveKids, a charity that uses the internet to provide information and support for families of children with serious illnesses. Goldman died of heart failure on December 25, 2003 age 39 at his home in Los Altos Hills, California. He is survived by wife Susan Rayl and their two children, Sydney and Josephine.[4]"

A nice guy and such a loss to his family. I talk about Phil some in the context of Princeton and his extreme "fat free" diet here:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/reading-between-the-lines.html [pdfernhout.net]
An excerpt: "Phil starts out aspiring, otherwise he would not have gone to someplace like Princeton, when California had a great public college system at the time like at Berkeley. Phil is surrounded by other aspiring people like myself at PU, but in a twisted context that prizes individual achievement and competition, and does not emphasize cooperation or balance. Princeton in that sense is an Ivy League ant hill. Phil and I are formed by Princeton University into (as Mr. Furious of the Mystery Men suggested) "little automaton droids"; essentially from our years at PU, we pupate from human beings into ants who go off programmed by PU to find and bring back money to the colony. Phil succeeds at bringing back a lot of money to PU, and I don't, but PU is playing the odds, it knows everyone won't bring back lots of money. Phil dies shortly after endowing a chair in Computer Science as the youngest alumni to ever do so (he was an amazing guy). PU doesn't really care about Phil's death (or whatever becomes of someone like me if I were to die trying to bring money back to PU) because there are always more ants. What does any ant colony care about the loss of one ant or even many in the pursuit of more resources for itself? So, in that sense, PU set up both both Phil and me to die in pursuit of profit for itself. ... Phil was interested in his health, but with a competetive Princeton background, perhaps he did not have the time to explore all the issues to make much of that aspiration, or the social encouragement towards moderation in all things (even moderation) or towards making health and health related research more of a priority? And with so much competition in our society over selling products or for research grants, it is hard to sort out fact from distortion even when you try to be as healthy as you can. I too fell for a while for the oversimplistic meme "fat makes you fat", where the results of such a diet for most people is to get fat, since carbohydrates can make you fat, too, with related ill-health effects, especially if you miss other essential nutrients from your diet (or from sunlight). So, there are a whole web of issues here, both individual and societal, even if vitamin D deficiency and competetion might be very big ones."

It's impressive WebTV lasted so long in an age of such rapidly changing technology. Still does not bring back Phil though.

More on healthy fats:
http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article11.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/healthy-food-fats-from-avocados-raw-nuts-and-seeds-are-vital-to-health.html [diseaseproof.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x38WyAVTvYk [youtube.com]
"The importance of eating nuts and seeds for health, rather than oils and why super low fat eating is not ideal, and more about essential fatty acids."

More on vitamin D for people who spend a lot of time indoors creating "the soul of a new machine":
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/ [vitamindcouncil.org]
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/ [vitamindcouncil.org]

Re:Remembering Phil Goldman, WebTV cofounder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209879)

Kind of a rambling post there.

Did Goldman have a family history of heart disease? Why did he die so young, if his lifestyle habits were apparently pretty good?

Re:Remembering Phil Goldman, WebTV cofounder (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 months ago | (#44209987)

Two words; hot grits.

Re:Remembering Phil Goldman, WebTV cofounder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44210029)

I was thinking substance abuse, including steroids which were all the rage among bodybuilders at the time (and probably still are) along with recreational drugs.

Disclaimer: I didn't know Phil so this is a WAG.

Re:Remembering Phil Goldman, WebTV cofounder (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 9 months ago | (#44210053)

Two words; hot grits.

You mean Natalie Portman is responsible? Did she hump him to death or what?

Re: Remembering Phil Goldman, WebTV cofounder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44210579)

Her vagina is a deathtrap.

Extreme low fat is bad for health (0)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 9 months ago | (#44210087)

I guess I was not clear -- an extreme low fat diet can apparently damage the heart or other organs.

Often the very things that lead to our success, like the ability to extremely focus on something, can also be our demise later on (in this case, possibly removing all fat from a diet as an extreme, done with the best of intentions based on mainstream medical advice). Whether a personal characteristic is a strength or weakness depends on context.

development? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44209815)

The problem is that these giant companies buy such companies but forget that the reason they are valued so high is because there is constant development and innovation. Companies like m$ buy it and then kill off the r&d, suck it dry for good engineers and reassign them. Then it becomes a dead project and a multi-million dollar write-off.

What a shame.

Re: development? (1)

irockash (1265506) | about 9 months ago | (#44212859)

My first job was tech support for MSN TV... That was in 2003. I'm not sure development was really the issue, especially with the type of money that the XBOX is bringing in compared to MSN TV.

No upgrade path to Xbox One? (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 9 months ago | (#44210035)

You'd think they'd offer an upgrade path to Xbox One. But no. That's not the Microsoft way. They didn't migrate PlaysForSure to Zune. They sort of migrated Zune to Windows Phone and Xbox Music. They're not good at gracefully supporting their content buyers as the technology changes.

Re:No upgrade path to Xbox One? (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 9 months ago | (#44210499)

You'd think they'd offer an upgrade path to Xbox One. But no. That's not the Microsoft way. They didn't migrate PlaysForSure to Zune. They sort of migrated Zune to Windows Phone and Xbox Music. They're not good at gracefully supporting their content buyers as the technology changes.

That's because internally, Microsoft makes decisions to keep products from eating profits of other profit lines, instead of what is best for the companies total bottom line. As such, PlaysForSure and Zune were competitors, even internally and the thought of Zune giving a break to the people who made the wrong choice was unthinkable. Let them pay the full price like everybody else. Likewise for Zune to Windows Phone and Xbox Music. When you set up your internal teams to compete against each other that is the result you get, winners and losers, but ultimately the consumer loses which means Microsoft loses, particularly when there are non-Microsoft solutions, too.

Worst management ever.... (2)

guevera (2796207) | about 9 months ago | (#44211397)

....and that's saying something.

The inability of MS's teams to work together might have something to do with the atrocious stack ranking method they used for employee evaluation:

“If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

That's from Vanity Faire from last year. I still find it hard to believe. I used to think Balmer hate was just sort of nerd posturing, but after reading that I realized, no, Balmer really is a clueless jack off doing nothing more than reciting the latest MBA buzzwords he learned from the latest business bestseller.

Re:Worst management ever.... (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 9 months ago | (#44211815)

....and that's saying something.

The inability of MS's teams to work together might have something to do with the atrocious stack ranking method they used for employee evaluation:

“If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

That's from Vanity Faire from last year. I still find it hard to believe. I used to think Balmer hate was just sort of nerd posturing, but after reading that I realized, no, Balmer really is a clueless jack off doing nothing more than reciting the latest MBA buzzwords he learned from the latest business bestseller.

That is a formula not for long term success but ultimate failure. When you force your team members not to actually function as a team, but ultimately be direct competitors of each other you do not get the best product and you don't get it at the most efficient price point.

Maybe that's why Microsoft is no longer considered a major player by most people. It wasn't because Bill Gates left, it was because who Bill Gates left in charge.

Re:No upgrade path to Xbox One? (3, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 9 months ago | (#44210539)

Microsoft still thinks like a monopoly, even in those fields where they don't actually possess one. In the long run, this will be their downfall.

Re:No upgrade path to Xbox One? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44214229)

I am sure it's worth it for the two people that actually used this.

Microsoft has never understood (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44210051)

Microsoft never understood. WebTV was never a replacement for a PC. It was never for the technically literate. It did work wonderfully for older folk or those who want email contact with family and friends and do not want to think about updates, BSOD, and other computer system turds. The user interface could be explained to older folk quickly, there were few surprises. You did not need a deep mental model of how it worked. Unlike smart phones it had a real keyboard that worked for folks with slightly impaired motor skills. It did not need a computer geek in the house to keep it running.

Its main problem was that MS abandoned it and let the software rot. There were increasingly amounts of web content that the WebTV box could not display.

Unfortunately, there is not really a good solution today. The tablets all have quirks that require deeper knowledge. PCs accessing GMail are the pits -- and Google keeps changing the UI (try explaining to an 85 year old why things are different).

Re:Microsoft has never understood (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44210309)

Microsoft never understood. WebTV was never a replacement for a PC. It was never for the technically literate.

Wait, what? Since when does Microsoft make anything for the technically literate. If a person is technically literate he/she/it will already know not to use anything from Microsoft.

Re:Microsoft has never understood (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 9 months ago | (#44215189)

PC users are technically literate compared to WebTV users. Imagine an 80-year old who doesn't know how to use a computer mouse but loves his WebTV to death. Someone I know is currently trying to teach this person how to use a mouse and the guy simply *cannot get it* no matter what he tries. He repeatedly picks up the mouse to tries to scrape it along instead of properly sliding it and repositioning the mouse at the end of the mouse pad to continue movement. It's amazing to hear.

Smartphones/tablets made WebTV obsolete (5, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 9 months ago | (#44210591)

The original idea of WebTV was that it would be a simple web browsing appliance for people who didn't need all the power of a full-fledged computer, and didn't want to learn all the intricacies of Windows. The thing is, we now have other devices that do this even better: tablets and smartphones. And the non-technical crowd has transitioned to these devices en masse. We hear a lot about the so-called "post-PC era", but it isn't because experienced users have stopped using standard PCs. (They haven't, and won't – tablets and smartphones are much too limited to take the place of a real workstation.) Rather, it's because people who never used all the power of a PC in the first place decided to switch to devices that were easier to use, and didn't require antivirus software or weekly security patching. An iPad makes a lousy workstation, but for non-technical users, it's a better web-browsing/email/Facebook device than a Windows PC. And WebTV with its ancient hardware and firmware couldn't keep up.

Re:Smartphones/tablets made WebTV obsolete (2)

colfer (619105) | about 9 months ago | (#44212493)

Monitors were huge & somewhat costly then, so it saved you that expense & space. But you couldn't scroll to the right! It just clipped anything wider than 640px (?) off. And the resolution of course was low-res TV. Not sure it was so protected from exploits either.

Re:Smartphones/tablets made WebTV obsolete (1)

JThundley (631154) | about 9 months ago | (#44212657)

Also don't forget that Flash took over the web and WebTV didn't have a mouse or the hardware to render flash as you mentioned. But nevermind the hardware, there was never a plugin!

A half a billion dollars spent? .. Or laundered? (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 9 months ago | (#44212247)

How is it this half billion dollars is well spent ? Only if the "downside" possibility is worth the money spent. So I wonder how it is that Microsoft and HP and Google and Facebook remain profitable with all of the money they toss around on dead ends. After a while it all looks like good old fashioned money laundering, masquerading as investment....

Re:A half a billion dollars spent? .. Or laundered (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44212529)

Microsoft was printing money from sales of Windows and MS Office all through the '90s and first decade of 2010, so $500 million for WebTV was chump change for them. Gates probably didn't want to take a chance that this would be the next big thing. I think it was like FB buying Instagram.

Bill Gates Ripped Me Off! (3, Interesting)

beaverdownunder (1822050) | about 9 months ago | (#44213977)

"Microsoft has just notified both subscribers of MSN TV that the service would be ending..."

Yes, and I imagine the two of them are equally disappointed. (I'm sure someone already made that joke, but I couldn't resist...)

Seriously though, I was responsible for some of the (frankly torturous) menu music in the earlier WebTV firmware (ooh, .MOD files...) which I was never actually paid for because my cheque got lost in the shuffle when Microsoft bought WebTV Networks. I think I'm happier to be able to say that Microsoft stiffed me though (and more proud of that fact than the music I wrote), rather than if I'd actually been paid. It makes for a better story.

Surprised the platform has survived this long though...

Any way to use it without the MSN service, then? (1)

the saltydog (450856) | about 9 months ago | (#44227623)

It would be cool of MSFT to at least issue a firmware update that would let users choose their own homepage, and bypass the paid service, which is going away, of course; at least with the MSNTV2, it's a 733MHz Celeron, which should be able to handle rendering of most mobile sites, at least... there are lots of people who will be utterly lost without this service (my brother being one of them). I just bought one of the Google TV units to see if it will be a suitable replacement.

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