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Microsoft looks to take MSN TV worldwide

Internet and digital media through a set top box could be here soon

Microsoft plans to bring its MSN TV 2 product to an international market in the next few years, buoyed by what it sees as a successful US launch last October.

MSN TV 2 allows users to access MSN's online services and the internet through a television using a dial-up or broadband internet connection. It is a silver box measuring 12x9x2in that runs Windows CE.

MSN TV can quickly be customised for different countries, according to a spokesperson for for MSN TV, and the company hopes to have the product available in some international markets within three years.

Microsoft is currently drawing up plans for the product's expansion. Canadian and Mexican ISPs have shown interest in the product, and Microsoft is also eying Puerto Rico and some European countries. Additionally, some partners in India have shown a curiosity about MSN TV 2, according to one source.

Microsoft won't give sales figures for MSN TV 2 in the US. While Microsoft sells the boxes in the US through retail stores and its website, plans for the international expansion call for co-selling with ISPs and network operators.

WebTV and the first MSN TV box were designed to bring internet access to users who did not own PCs, including senior citizens. With MSN TV 2, Microsoft hopes to expand the market by including broadband and home networking capabilities. The product includes digital media receiver features that let users access content stored on their PC through their TV.

In the US, an MSN TV 2 package including the box, a wireless keyboard and remote control is priced at $199.95 (£104). The box has a phone jack for a dial up internet connection, as well as an ethernet jack and USB (universal serial bus) ports that can be used for wireless network adapters.

Microsoft plans to update MSN TV 2 around the middle of the year to allow users to order and watch movies. It will also let users play songs stored on their PC that are protected with Microsoft's digital rights management technology.

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