WebTV Networks, Inc.
The set-top box, a dumbed-down Internet connection used with a standard television and phone line, is a reality, and this reality is Microsoft’s. For a paltry $425 million, Microsoft acquired WebTV and its access to households who can’t afford (or don’t want to afford) a full-fledged personal computer. Plans to make set-top boxes and home appliances run on Windows CE, a smaller version of Microsoft’s operating system Windows, are in the works. WebTV recently signed distribution deals with a variety of content providers including Salon magazine and the chat service Talk City.