Since Microsoft Corp.'s UltimateTV interactive television service was not embraced by the public as quickly as it had hoped, the software giant is taking another tact. Microsoft is rolling out a low-cost, watered-down service that will give subscribers access to the Net via their TVs for as little as $9.95 a month.
The service is available via a newly released MSN TV Internet receiver, which enables users to access the Internet from their television sets using a wireless keyboard or remote control.
The MSN TV receiver, manufactured by Thomson RCA, retails for $99, offers two subscription plans. For $9.95 a month, users subscribe to the Economy plan, which includes five hours of Internet access, and an option to purchase additional hours at $2.95 a pop. For unlimited access, subscribers will have to fork over $21.95 a month.
To entice potential and existing MSN Internet access subscribers, Microsoft is offering two months of free MSN TV to users that purchase the receiver by August 31.
In January, Microsoft announced plans to restructure its UltimateTV division, and fold it into a television services group within Microsoft's MSN division. At the time, the company said it was eliminating roughly one-third of jobs related to its UltimateTV group.