The beginning of the end for "Plus"?

Last Updated: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2002, 4:00pm PST

Click for UPDATE: 11/20/02. I got my reply.

In case you haven't noticed, older WebTV "Plus" receivers do not work well with the newer upgraded browsers. The main problem is the size of the memory or "RAM". The RAM was increased to 16 Megs in the year 2000 and Plus boxes manufactured since then work perfectly with the new browser versions.

MSN ordered manufacturers to stop making the Plus receivers last spring, and although Philips is refurbishing and upgrading older Plus units to work with the current browser versions, there are no new ones being made. The only NEW terminal available that I have been able to find is the RCA RM-2100 "MSN-TV Terminal" which is a "Classic" model, not a "Plus". If your receiver was manufactured in 2000 to 2002, or you are using the 2.7 upgrade and not having trouble with it, then you probably have the 16 Meg RAM and should be ok for a while.

Owners of older (made prior to 2000) WebTV "Plus" receivers will have to replace them to keep up with the latest browser versions with acceptable performance. Naturally, this is going to be a problem with no new "Plus" receivers on the market anymore. I have contacted MSN about this dilemma and am awaiting their reply. More information will be posted here as soon as it's available.

If you've been having performance problems with your terminal, age could be the reason.
See the Slow Loading and Poor Performance page at my MSN-TV Only Help Pages for more information on the problem, and where you can purchase a new terminal.

UPDATE: 11/20/02. I got my reply.

I was told I would receive a reply to my inquiry within 24 hours. It took 4 days but I finally did get a reply. My inquiry was sent to the Executive Support Team and to Dennis Reno. The reply was from the support team, I've not heard a thing from Reno yet. This is the reply I received from the support team:

"Dear Techniguy,

Thank you for your inquiry.  Unfortunately, there are no plans to manufacture the plus units.

We are always working to improve MSN TV and rely heavily on input from you, our customer..." blah, blah, blah...

I have written them back to ask "WHY?" and what they plan for Plus users. This page will be updated with any useful information I receive. If I get nothing encouraging back, I will try to offer some information on alternate set top boxes and service.

The real truth in this matter is unknown as MSN-TV refuses to reply to my inquires or make any statement on this issue. It has been stated that they intend to continue to support the Plus units, however no Plus receivers are in production at the present time.

Production of these units was halted in 2000 either by Microsoft, or by the manufactures, conflicting information on this has been received. It has been said that MSN is now looking for a manufacturer to produce new Plus receivers, but this information has not been confirmed by MSN.

All we know for sure is that no Plus units have been manufactured since 2000, although MSN has contracted with RCA to produce the new MSN (Classic) receiver which is now available.

When I first saw it, I thought the new MSN-TV receiver would have been a "Plus" type and that the Classic was being phased out in favor of the better unit. Now it looks like just the opposite is the case. We have to consider that MSN doesn't make any money off of the sale of receivers by the manufacturers, in fact MSN subsidizes their sales just to get people on their service, that's why manufacturers can offer the MSN-TV receiver for just $99.00. The Classic receiver uses a smaller memory and limited browser version and costs about half of what the Plus costs, therefor their subsidies to the manufacturers is less with the cheaper receiver. With the smaller browser and the cheaper box, MSN hopes to lure more customers onto their service where they make their money on monthly subscription fees. It has been posted elsewhere that in June 2002, Microsoft ordered manufacturers to stop making the "Plus" terminal. Conflicting reports claim that it was the manufactures halted production fearing the demise of the MSN-TV system.

There is currently no new "Plus" receivers on the market that will support the latest browser upgrades and the older terminals don't work well with the new browser versions. The only "Plus" units available now are refurbished Philips MAT976 receivers which have been upgraded with 16 Megs of RAM to accept the latest browser versions. How long will these be available? What are we going to do when they run out and we need to replace our receivers? Does MSN expect us to downgrade to the "Classic" model they are offering now and lose the "Plus" features we are now enjoying?

In 1999, MSN authorized RCA to manufacture the RCA RW-2110 "WebTV Plus" receiver. It was an excellent receiver and still performs well with the latest 2.7 browser but few of them got onto the market. MSN then renamed the service to MSN-TV and production of this fine unit was cancelled and replaced with the RCA RM-2100 "MSN-TV" receiver which MSN has been since promoting in their tv ads. There is no longer a Webtv "Plus" or "Classic", only the MSN-TV receiver, which is similar to the WebTV "Classic" with only 8 Megs of RAM. It stands to reason that in a short time, the "Plus" service will also be phased out if new units arn't put into production.

If a "Plus" version of the MSN-TV receiver is not put into production soon, then we all will loose those features when the time comes that we need to replace our terminals. That time has already come for many and their only choice now is the Philips MAT976 refurbished units. I believe it's time for MSN to hear from their subscribers again. It's not that we want interactive tv nonsense, but we don't want to loose our 16 Meg memories, tv listings, Picture In Picture, the ability to upload photos and sound, [Instant Messenger AND Mpeg] support, and the other "Plus" features that we have come to depend on.


MSN says they listen to their customers and try to give us what we want in our MSN-TV service. Let's put this to a test which will effect the future of all of us Plus users, and see if they stand behind what they say. Below is a link you can use to write to the key people at MSN-TV who can make and change policy in the organization. If you value your "Plus" receiver and service, then use the link to voice your opinion. I believe if enough of us are heard, we can save the "Plus" receiver and service.

Another, and just as important thing you can do is click the link below for the "Feature Request" and send in your request. This action was suggested by Dennis Reno when he actually did reply to one users email.

Write to MSN-TV here and request the "Plus" receivers be put back into production. Keep it brief and to the point as much as possible. Copy your message so you can paste it into the "Feature Request" form in the link below the email, but only if it's brief and to the point. After mailing, you will receive several autoresponder messages to let you know your email was received. I am aware that from time to time, some of you will also recieve a message saying that your email could not be delivered to one or more of the addys. Dennis Reno had blocked our email about this so I removed him from the list but have put him back on now incase some can get through. The Customer Support Team is not on this list as they are an independent company contracted by MSN to attempt to answer suscriber questions and know nothing about what is going on with our masters.

I'm doing all I can to make sure the addys are valid but have no control over what MSN does on their end. Even if your message get delivered to only one or two of the addys, you have done your part to help with this problem. You have my thanks.

CLICK HERE TO SEND A FEATURE REQUEST. You will have to click a few buttons and fill in the form.
CLICK HERE for suggested seletions on the form.

Please share this information with all your MSN-TV friends. If MSN doesn't hear from us, we will soon loose our "Plus" service and if that goes, then MSN-TV will not survive much longer and we will all be forced out to seek internet access elsewhere.