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June 18, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:03pm

WEBTV OPENS UP TO ISP CHOICE

By CBR Staff Writer

WebTV Networks Inc is no longer proprietary. The soon-to-be Microsoft Corp unit will offer a so-called OpenISP option as part of a software upgrade from the end of this month. It will enable users to keep their current Internet Service Provider (ISP), or sign up with one other than WebTV, which through its preferred partners Concentric Corp, has been the only option until now. WebTV will charge $9.95 for the OpenISP service, plus whatever charges the user’s own ISP levies. The price for unlimited access through WebTV is $19.95 per month. The upgrade also adds the ability to print using a printer adapter from the two manufacturers of WebTV boxes, Sony Electronics Inc and Philips Consumer Electronics Co. The adapters are expected to cost about $60 and will be out in July. Users will also need to buy a parallel printer cable. WebTV has also licensed Secure Sockets Layer software from Terisa Inc to enable secure transactions over the WebTV network. The toolkit WebTV licensed from Terisa includes the ability to configure the encryption for US domestic or export use, and as these boxes are staying within the confines of the US, WebTV was able to use 128-bit encryption in the SSL software. The new WebTV software will also support Macromedia Inc’s Macromedia Flash graphics and animation software. The software is also bringing the internet and TV closer still with the addition of a version of TV Guide online. WebTV is claiming 85,000 subscribers, of whom 67% access the net every day. WebTV’s $425m acquisition by Microsoft is still awaiting regulatory approval.

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