Microsoft shuts down MSN TV, a pioneering set-top box that couldn’t keep up with the times


Before TVs were “smart,” before Boxee and Roku and Apple TV and TiVo, there was just WebTV. Steve Perlman’s brainchild was designed in the 1990s to marry the computer and television, and though its technology is now widely used Microsoft has decided it no longer has use for the product it bought for $ 425 million in 1997. Now known as MSN TV, Microsoft has announced that it will cease operations in September of 2013.

Google TV before Google TV

WebTV was, like so many inventions, born of necessity. Perlman needed a graphical display for his PC, so he hacked into the one he already owned – his television. The resulting product was a crude mix of set-top box and home theater PC, and it was good enough to make Businessweek’s Stephen H….

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