The Tech News Blog

July 7, 2013

Microsoft Ending MSN TV Sept. 30


Time to give the bad news to grammie: Microsoft is officially pulling the plug on its MSN TV service as of the end of September, a bit over 13 years since Microsoft acquired the service — then, WebTV — in April 1997.

For those who have no idea what MSN TV even is – and don't worry, there will be a few of you – the initial WebTV service cost users north of $300 for a dedicated set-top box that granted them access to the Internet via their televisions for a monthly service fee of $20.

Yes, that's right: For more than the current cost of Microsoft's Xbox 360 consoles, a box with a 122-MHz CPU and a 33.6k modem provided TV viewers with online access. And that's without any internal storage on which to store any interesting things you found when browsing. The device's wireless keyboard also cost $50 extra.

Pricing for the set-top box improved over the years, but not by that much. The latest generation of an MSN TV set-top box, RCA's RM-4100, still carried a retail price of $200 for the set-top box, remote control, and wireless keyboard. And the service prices for MSN TV remained: $22 per month for those looking to tap into the service via dial-up ($10 per month if you already had an existing ISP), and $10 per month for those looking to access MSN TV via their existing broadband connections.

February 16, 2012

Microsoft’s New ‘msnNOW’ Uses Bing to Find What’s New, Now

On Wednesday night, Microsoft launched MsnNOW, a site that promises to "surface the latest buzz" from social media feeds including Facebook and Twitter.

On the surface, it's unclear how MsnNOW (or "msnNOW," as the site likes to call itself) is any different than the MSN Wonderwall - or, for that matter, any other gossip site on the Web. (A Microsoft spokeswoman said in an email that Wonderwall is a destination for celebrity news, while MsnNOW will focus on "breaking trends" from across the Web.)

It appears, however, that MSNNow employs an Instapaper-like approach to trolling the Web, but with a focus on what users of its Bing search engine are actually searching for. At the upper left of the page, a counter constantly monitors Bing searches and social media updates. (Unfortunately, at press time, the live page noted that the trends were current as of "02/15/2001".)


"Every moment of every day, people are searching, sharing, tweeting and posting content, MsnNOW said in an explanatory note. "It's hard for people to know what others are really talking about; so every few minutes we look back at the last 24 hours to tally, sort and analyze millions of Bing searches and social updates. We sift through all this data, toss out the boring, the lame, the uninteresting -- and then look for patterns to emerge. Our advanced technology detects breaking trends as they happen in real time -- so you'll find stories on msnNOW that you'll find nowhere else. Sure, we'll cover some big stories, but with a unique social angle. We think this new blend of algorithms and editorial is the perfect way to find the stories that matter now."

November 4, 2009

MSN Unveils a New Design

Microsoft today has unveiled a new redesign of its portal. The new site sports a new look that is much cleaner and streamlined compared to the current design, which is bloated with a lot of information. MSN will now use Silverlight technology to display video content from more than 300 content providers, including Hulu and National Geographic. Tabs are now used to help organize content by topic, such as news, entertainment, games, etc. There is also an integration of Twitter, Facebook, and Windows Live right on the homepage.

The new design isn't "live" yet per se, but you can use the preview, which is available here.

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