Welcome to the WebTV/MSN TV Wiki! WebTV, later known as MSN TV, is an internet access device consisting of a set top box that utilized dial-up access (and later on, broadband), using a keyboard and remote for user input. It was also a specialized service complementing said devices that they would connect to for access to the general internet and WebTV/MSN TV's own online services. The product and service launched in 1996 as WebTV, and a year later the company behind this technology, WebTV Networks, was acquired by Microsoft. WebTV later became MSN TV circa 2001, and the entire service would eventually be discontinued on September 30, 2013. This wiki is NOT about the "WebTV for Windows" application bundled with Windows 98, which is essentially a souped up TV tuner, nor is this wiki about any video streaming services with "Web TV" in the name.
What we are accomplishing with this wiki is to seek out, collect, and document as much information as we can gather on the WebTV/MSN TV internet product's hardware, services, protocols, and other subjects concerning it. Much to the surprise of many, WebTV/MSN TV did indeed already have people focused on learning about the product and how it worked, primarily in its hacking scene. Up until 2021, however, only surface level information about the product and service (especially in regards to its many vulnerabilities), or basic writeups about the technical portions of WebTV/MSN TV were available for public consumption, with most information about WebTV/MSN TV either remaining undocumented, poorly preserved, or in regards to some technical information, circulated privately by select people, never to see the light of day. We're here to make up for that and make all information on WebTV/MSN TV centralized, public, and easily accessible, using information that we have been able to obtain from scene sites, from our own research, and in private from those who know a bit about the product/service. We are here to rip open the guts of the entire WebTV/MSN TV service and technology and make it known for all!
This wiki was originally run by an anonymous person, wtv-411, from early 2021 to September 2022. Ownership of the wiki has since been transferred to JarHead, and future updates to the wiki will be published here.
For now, this wiki will mostly focus on the first generation of WebTV/MSN TV (pre-MSN TV 2) technologies and services, and try to make sense of how they worked. We hope to extend on other information we have though, especially with information concerning the MSN TV 2 seeing as information on that variant of the product and corresponding service specifically is extremely endangered, moreso than the first generation of WebTV/MSN TV products to our knowledge.
Do you or someone you know have any crucial WebTV-related information we're seeking to preserve? Check out our Wanted page.
Interested in backing up your WebTV/UltimateTV/DishPlayer hard drives for any reason? Check out the guide we recently wrote on doing that: Backing Up WebTV (MSN TV) Hard Drives.
Want to install Linux on an MSN TV 2 box? Check out Installing Linux on the MSN TV 2 (RM4100).
Join the WebTV/MSN TV Discord server to chat about anything WebTV/MSN TV with like minded people.
UPDATE - 3/16/2023: Hello people. This is wtv-411. Bet you weren't expecting me to make another appearance after saying that I've moved on, huh? To tell the truth, I was mostly just burnt out from being involved with the WebTV community, as well as just actively running and writing for the wiki at the time, although my activity since then has been more discrete and I mostly help out with things in the background when I can. While things have gone quiet since JarHead has taken the reigns, I have been blessed with the privilege of being a contributor yet again and I have been putting in what little free time and motivation I have with this into polishing and updating the information on this wiki. I have added some more info on the hardware used by WebTV, as well as adding some minor updates to the MSN TV 2 page and some other pages, but I don't think I'll be doing anything more major than that considering how much effort is needed to keep this wiki running. Oh, and also the site doesn't properly show up in Google search results and only Google's for some reason, possibly because of the haphazard domain migration from the old domain and also the weird dual HTTP-HTTPS setup this site has right now. Wonderful. I am looking into transferring the old webtvwiki.net domain to the holder of the wiki's current domain before the end of the year, which might not change things by much but it may help in keeping things consistent.
On the flip side, I just got around to publishing the little info I have gathered and discovered on the MSN TV 2's service, as well as some info on the firmware, on a separate GitHub wiki since I feel that it is not only easier to manage, but will also allow more people to easily find it compared to a small obscure wiki that you can't even search for anymore. You can view it here. It may not get consistent updates due to real life obligations as well as the nature of the thing the wiki is focused on, but I am definitely looking forward to working on that more than this.
IMPORTANT UPDATE - 9/11/2022: Hey everybody! I'm JarHead, the new operator of this wiki from now on. Things have been a bit hectic the past few hours, so things might not be exactly correct just yet. Outside of domains just changing, I'll also be publishing my own knowledge about WebTV that I've gained over the past 3 years I've been working with WebTV, so I hope you can learn as much as I have.
For older updates: Archived Updates
- SNAP2 Corporation
- Doom for WebTV
- Data Formats
- WebTV Viewer
- WebTV for Dreamcast
- Client Commands
- WebTV Upgrade History