I remember first coming to the internet. I didn’t even have a computer! I was using WebTV, now MSNTV, which is an ISP which broadcasts internet through a reliever to your television set, rather than a computer monitor, and can be controlled with a remote control and a remote keyboard.
WEBTV was also a client (similar to a program) and as soon as you are connected, you don’t look at something similar to a desktop on a PC but, rather, the WEBTV home which includes access to several built in features: search, profiles, homepages, chat (which connected to TalkCity) and e-mail.
Despite this, there are several limitations such as the fact that you couldn’t actually download anything and there were no actual programs to use so, oftentimes, when I needed to type up a paper for school I would use WEBTV and search for a website application which functioned like a word program.
However, for someone who wasn’t a serious web user, WebTV was perfect. There was no computer or hardware to purchase or take up extra space; you could use your regular television set and simply turn off WebTV and tune into your favourite channel. You didn’t need extra programs because all of the basics were provided and your profile contained all the information and tools you needed in one hub.
However, if you wanted to expand your horizons, you were SOL. Unfortunately, I soon wanted more than just the basics and WebTV just wasn’t going to cut in anymore. I wanted to do more with my webpage but saving web content was a hassle and more trouble than it was worth because WebTV didn’t come with a hard drive. If I wanted to communicate, there were no real time options, really. I could use the built in chat or e-mail or, what I would more frequently do, was use HTML based chat such as the former sites The Park and WBS.
We kept WebTV for a while longer before eventually purchasing a PC. Sometime before we upgraded, however, an awesome new feature was added to WebTV, probably because of a merger or buyout with Microsoft: IM! And it wasn’t any crappy IM service, either; it was MSN Messenger which allowed you to communicate with any other buddy on MSN, even if there were less features supported.
This was great because now I cold have real time conversations with my friends while I was browsing the internet, sometime that was unheard of before. WebTV didn’t have the option to minimize a window or multi-task very well so this addition was absolutely ground breaking.
Granted, WebTV users like myself could use options like emoticons so our conversations were laced with letters in parentheses – like so (6) (a) and half of my replies were “What emoticon is that supposed to be?” but it did represent a huge leap forward and helped make WebTV a more viable solution for at-home internet services.
From then on, I probably spent much more time online than I should have because I could actually talk to people! MSN Messenger has since been my favourite IM service, probably because I knew it first and best. And when we did finally buy a PC, of course I had to download MSN Messenger to use on there!
For those who might be interested, I think a fair deal of issues with MSNTV have now been sorted out. Modern MSNTV has storage similar to a hard drive which makes accessing files much easier. You can also view MSWord and Adobe PDF files as well as listen to streaming music with a media player. Furthermore, the newest version of MSNTV– MSNTV2 – can be hooked up to a home network with your PC and even utilize a mouse!
All of these characteristics, old and new, make MSNTV a perfect tool for many internet users to integrate into their homes.