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Microsoft trims MSN TV price, adds features

Company announces $100 rebate that effectively halves the cost of the set-top box.

Microsoft is discounting its MSN TV 2 set-top box--and adding several new features.

The company announced on Tuesday that it's offering a $100 rebate that effectively halves the cost of the set-top box, which allows users to send and receive e-mail, browse the Web and access information from a PC located elsewhere in the home. The rebate runs through Jan. 31.

Microsoft debuted the MSN TV 2 box, which is the successor to Web TV, last September. Like its predecessor, MSN TV 2 allows for reading e-mail and viewing the Web using a TV as a monitor. However, in its latest incarnation, the set-top box added the ability to fetch music and photos stored on another PC, as well as under-the-hood changes such as the inclusion of the Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser engine and Windows CE as the device's operating system.

The new features build on those changes, adding additional streaming video clips, the ability to play protected Windows Media audio files and the ability to have the box check for new e-mail at scheduled times, including e-mail from non-Microsoft, POP-based accounts.

"We?re constantly engaged with our users to find out what new features they would like to see added to our product," MSN TV general manager Sam Klepper said in a statement.

Microsoft declined to say how many MSN TV 2 boxes have sold.