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wtv-411 edited this page Dec 28, 2023 · 4 revisions

The MSN TV 2 is an internet appliance developed by Microsoft and manufactured by RCA/Thomson, made as a direct successor to the original WebTV and MSN TV devices. Its main selling point was adding support for broadband, allowing for media streaming and home networking capabilities, and media viewing from storage devices. It also offered a set of services hosted on a specialized service to subscribers such as web browsing, E-mail, discussion groups, instant messaging, and Chat (originally MSN Chat, but later switched to IRC), requiring a monthly subscription and Microsoft account (Passport) to use. The MSN TV 2 service shut down on September 30, 2013, mostly fading into obscurity since then.

While the MSN TV 2 isn't the most useful thing to exist, both the device and its service are interesting in that their entire existence is an enigma (and that it's a Microsoft product). It was only until recently in 2020 that any information on the service was uncovered. While the MSN TV 2 service was essentially a glorified web service, it did use proprietary JavaScript and ActiveX to communicate with boxes, and due to the obscure nature of the product, most if not almost all of the pages and code for the core MSN TV services are lost, and what little was able to be saved was scraped from the Wayback Machine and the cache folders of used MSN TV 2 boxes.

Since then, a bunch of new information on the MSN TV 2 was brought to light through a dedicated WebTV Wiki as a result of an effort to document the more technical workings of the device and service. But it was also eventually figured out how the login services for MSN TV 2 worked once the event logs on used MSN TV 2 boxes were able to be decoded, which led to a working proof of concept "service" that has been showcased on YouTube. This wiki is being created with the sole purpose of getting this information out there for preservation's sake, and also in the event that anyone happens to take an interest in this project and wants to help uncover even more about this weird, unknown device and its service.

Right now, this wiki will mostly document the MSN TV 2 service as that is the part of the MSN TV 2 that desperately needs documentation. But information on the hardware will also be covered to some degree.


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