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Microsoft to switch off MSN TV

Dial-up age dinosaur has been told when its meteor will land

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Microsoft will close MSN TV, a product that allows users to access the Internet on televisions.

Redmond gave MSN TV to the world after its 1997 acquisition of Web TV Networks, an outfit that made it possible to hook up a TV to the Internet, usually through a dial-up modem. Microsoft wrote a $UD425m cheque to buy the company.

16 years later, according to an FAQ posted about the closure, "the web has continued to evolve at a breathtaking pace, and there are many new ways to access the internet. Accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to end the MSN TV service on September 30th, 2013."

The FAQ goes on to suggest transition arrangements for dial-up customers, including the generous provision that users may keep their set top boxes.

The closure of MSN TV is perhaps less remarkable than the fact Microsoft is still operating a dial-up service of this sort. That the service's time is up is obvious: $100 smartphones can be had almost anywhere in the globe and provide an easier and more modern internet on-ramp than a set top box based rig.

But the closure also creates an interesting void. Google has a comparable product and Apple has long hinted at televisual aspirations. The likes of Samsung and Sony have also baked connected capabilities into their products.

Microsoft has form playing in online markets it can't dominate - think search and online news - out of what appears to be a combination of bloody-mindedness and a belief it cannot vacate those markets to competitors. It's therefore hard to imagine Redmond doesn't have another TV idea up its sleeve. ®

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