WebTV Upgrade History

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This page largely copies information from https://nytak.tripod.com/wtv_upgrades.html. For the time being this information is unchanged minus formatting content to be presentable on the wiki and adding minor information on updates past 2005.

MSNtv occasionaly offers upgrades to its users. In these upgrades you'll find new features added to the MSNtv service. This page is devoted to keeping track of the features MSNtv users have received with each upgrade.

KEY: [SS] = server-side upgrade (These are upgrades that the MSNtv Network does on its own. They don't require any downloading of new features. These occur sometimes early Wednesday mornings.) If any of the features below don't have [SS] next to them (or aren't specified as a server-side upgraded feature) this means that they were part of the client-side upgrade. These client-side upgrades are usually offered when logging on to MSNtv. It takes the MSNtv Network about 2-4 weeks to get all of its subscribers upgraded since the upgrades are only offered to a select number of people per day.

Winter 1996

Classic Client 1.1 (Dec. 1996):

  • Support for these audio types: Real Audio, WAV, AIFF, AU, MPEG 2, GSM, and some MOD files
  • Background music as you surf (MIDI files)
  • Audio Panel - ability to stop, play and pause an audio file
  • Switch Users - switch usernames without having to power off
  • Message Watch - have your WebTV dial in daily at a set time to check for e-mail
  • Sensitivity Adjust added as a Call Waiting option
  • Sufficient support for frames

Summer 1997

Classic Client 1.2 (June 1997):

  • JavaScript
  • ShockWave Audio
  • Macromedia Shockwave Flash 1.0 (for animation) [WebTV Plus has Version 2.0 of this plugin]
  • Real Audio 3.0
  • SSL Encryption (for secure web transactions)
  • Printing capability
  • HTML 3.2
  • Expanded favorites (600 can be saved) [SS]

Fall 1997

Classic Client 1.3 (September 1997):

  • IRC Chat [SS]
  • MPEG Video (up to 400K)
  • VideoFlash (currently used for ads)
  • Ability to download the audio from Quicktime Movies
  • New Explore
  • SurfSpots (banner ads) [SS]
  • Weather forecast on the HOME screen

Summer 1998

Classic Client 1.4 (June 1998):

  • NextNew option in newsgroups [SS]
  • POP3 Mail Access (Remote Mail AKA Fetch) [SS]
  • More background music selections (80 MIDIs)
  • My WebTV - allows you to add the latest news, weather, sports scores and stock quotes to your Home page.
  • Improved surf spots (banner ads shown between sites) [SS]
  • Improved SSL support (for secure purchases online)
  • Improved Javascript support
  • /ignore command for IRC Chat
  • Cut/Copy/Paste
  • Ability to view forms in e-mail
  • Up to 1500 readable posts now available in newsgroups [SS]

WebTV Plus Users received the above plus:

(Plus Client 2.2)

  • New TV Home Features - week of TV listings, ability to search TV listings, Reminders, easy recording with IR Blaster
  • Multimedia Email - add 30 second sound clips (.wav format) and vid caps (.jpg format) to your email messages
  • New MIDI engine - improved MIDI sound- Beatnik support - RMF, eMIDI and runtime MIDI event processing.
  • Dynamic HTML
  • TVML
  • Hard drive Web page caching

Fall 1998

Full Server-Side Upgrade (Sept. 1998):

  • New additions to WebTV Kid Friendly service
  • Entertainment section added to the My WebTV feature and the weather forecast is now from The Weather Channel instead of Accuweather
  • Redesigned Explore - with 2 new sections: 1) Living 2) Family & Kids
  • Redesigned Around Town
  • Quick Help pages that explain WebTV features better
  • New design for the Chat feature (Talk City) - trouble box to directly report chatters to the CSA, full list of chat rooms
  • Ability to send E-greetings digital greeting cards in Mail section
  • Manual attachment of original message when replying in e-mail instead of the automatic attachment

WebTV Plus users received the above plus:

  • Ability to add vid-caps and sound clips to newsgroup posts
  • Searchable actors/actresses and directors added to the TV listings

Spring 1999

Classic Client 1.4.2 (May 1999):

  • Spell Checker
  • Fix for the "Amnesia Bomb"
  • ??other bug fixes??

(This upgrade was just an upgrade to fix some bugs. A lot of the most annoying bugs remain even after the upgrade is downloaded. This upgrade has had a lot of problems. It originally was released as ver. 1.4.1 for Classic users and ver. 2.2.1 for Plus users. A second upgrade was released to fix the Amnesia Bomb problem [Classic ver. 1.4.2 and Plus ver. 2.2.2].)

The DISHPlayer's current WebTV Client is 2.3 (as of June 1999). It includes all of the above plus:

  • Macromedia Flash 3.0

Summer 1999

Full Server-Side Upgrade (June 1999):

  • Page Builder - WebTV users have 3MB of space on WebTV servers to build Web pages and store files
  • Remove Signature Button - removes a user's signature from their e-mail message or newsgroup posting
  • Change Name on E-mail - allows you to change the name that goes out on your outgoing e-mails so it doesn't match the same name you gave for billing purposes (primary user only)
  • Add to Scrapbook Button - When viewing an e-mail that includes an image attachment, you can press the Scrapbook button on the sidebar to add the image to the scrapbook of your Page Builder
  • New Home/Start Page - totally redesigned Web Home page
  • WebTV Centers - replace My WebTV and Explore - include centers for News, Shopping, Entertainment, Money, Sports and WebTV Today
  • Expanded and Improved Help Section - a much better help section for WebTV users
  • Online Billing Statement - ability to view your billing history (primary user only)
  • Online purchase security guarantee with certain online stores

[This upgrade is for all users.]

Winter 1999

WebTV Client 2.3.1 (December 1999):

DISHPlayer Upgrade Only

PTV (Personal TV) Upgrade

The cost of the PTV features is $9.99 per month paid to Dish Network and WebTV users get a $5 discount on their monthly WebTV Plus Service fee. The PTV features are:

  • WebTV Instant News Channel - Get personalized headlines, entertainment news, weather forecasts, sports scores and stock info instantly via satellite without being connected to WebTV
  • DVR - Digital Video Recording - record up to 5 hours of programming on the hard drive - with fast forward, rewind, pause and commercial skip (skip 30 seconds ahead with the touch of a button)
  • Advanced Pause - pause a live TV program longer than the usual 30 minutes, and you can rewind, fast forward and commercial skip
  • Instant Replay - hit the instant replay button and you get a 7 second replay (you can rewind even further back into the program too)
  • PTV subscribers get a new remote sent to them free by mail. This remote has new buttons for all the PTV functions.

Summer 2000

WebTV Plus Client 2.5:

All WebTVs [EXCEPT THE DISHPlayer] get:

  • Real Audio Upgrade - support for Real Player G2 streaming audio
  • MSN Messenger - instant message WebTV users and computer users who have the MSN IM program downloaded - for instant communication anytime: during surfing, etc. etc.
  • Flash 3.0 - support for most Shockwave Flash animations in version 3.0 and lower
  • Javascript 1.3 & separate browser windows now can be seen (embedded into the Web page being viewed)

Every WebTV box except for the First Generation WebTV Classics (that are over 4 years old) get the following in addition to the features shown above:

  • Windows Media Player - ability to play *most* Windows Media streaming video and audio files

Winter 2001

Client Version 2.6:

[This upgrade is NOT available for DISHPlayers]

  • Improved Web Browser - HTML 4.0, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 & Mozilla 4.0 compatible
  • Improved Windows Media Player - ability to shrink the size of the video frame to make it more like the frame seen on computers and other added features
  • Shockwave Flash 4.0
  • Ability to Stop BG Real Audio Found in Some Signatures - If you open an e-mail or newsgroup post and a Real Audio file starts playing in the background you can now stop it by pressing Option and selecting Stop
  • Printing Change - ability to print all text AND all images in black and white (saves on color ink)

WebTV Plus users receive all the features above plus:

  • MSN Messenger Changes - ability to watch TV in PIP window and use MSN Messenger by shrinking the size of the Messenger window
  • 4 Corner PIP Window- PIP window now can be moved to all four corners of the screen
  • TV Wallet - make purchases, request samples and more while watching certain TV programs without having to dial in to WebTV during the program
  • Interactive TV Search added to TV Listings Search function


Client Version 2.7:

  • WebTV changes its name to MSNtv. (All WebTV logos are replaced with MSN logos)
  • New MSNtv home/start page
  • Access to MSN Chat
  • Ability to be alerted in status bar (bar at bottom of the screen) when user has new Hotmail e-mail

Spring 2003

Client Version 2.8:

  • Improved SSL Encryption Access (more access to more sites that use secure servers)
  • "Behind-the-scenes changes"
  • New Faster Loading Redesigned Home/Start Page [SS]

Summer 2003

Client Version 2.8.1:

  • Behind-the-scenes changes to MSN Messenger

Fall 2003

Client Version 2.8.2:

  • Behind-the-scenes changes to MSN Chat (ability to make a chatroom added)

Spring 2004

April Server Side Upgrade:

  • E-mail changes: known senders indicator (green dot) and known senders list added to help control spam e-mail [SS]

Summer 2004

Client Version 2.9:

  • More behind-the-scenes changes to the web browser including:
    • Some bug fixes (fixing the problem with the back button going back 2 pages instead of 1)
    • Changes to the handling of some Javascript and CSS
    • Improved handling of secure sites and cookies
    • More Mail Storage [SS] - [10MB in Mail List/15MB in Saved storage OR up to 1,000 messages in Mail list and 1,000 in Saved folder] (Sept 2004)

Summer 2005

Client Version 2.9.1:

  • Ability to choose your own screen name when using MSN Chat (removal of the "Guest_" tag)
  • Some minor changes to the MSNtv Mail pages
  • Some rearranging of links on the Home/start page [SS]
  • Ability to change the name sent out in e-mails with your e-mail address on all usernames - now including secondary users (option found under Mail settings) [SS]


  • By 2012, a dedicated Junk Mail mailbox was added to MSN TV service mail accounts [SS]
  • It is speculated that when the MSN Chat service shut down in 2006, Microsoft had reverted back to IRC for their MSN TV service's Chat section [SS]