Couch potatoes will soon be able to read and post to Usenet newsgroups from
their television sets, as well as surf the Web.
Within the next two weeks, WebTV
Networks will begin supporting Usenet groups so that users of its
set-top Internet device will be able to participate in thousands of
discussions on every topic from agriculture to alien abductions, according
to a company spokeswoman.
The new feature is part of a gradual effort by
Web TV to support many of the Internet capabilities that are already
commonplace for PC users.
Because it connects to standard TV sets, Web TV is meant to appeal to
consumers who want to access the Internet without shelling out for
expensive computer accessories such as a monitor. But Web TV's built-in
browser lacks support for many of the technologies, such as Java and
real-time chat capabilities, that are available in Netscape Communciations' Navigator and
However, the company hopes to beef up the capabilities of
its browser by supporting these and other technologies, including Secure
Sockets Layer and printing. It does not have a release date for a new
version of the browser, a spokeswoman said today.
Web TV already includes basic support for the two principal Internet
applications--email and the Web browsing. Usenet newsgroups also have a
devoted following among users who are attracted by the unmoderated,
sometimes racy character of the discussions. A Web TV spokeswoman said
today that the company had no intention of blocking customer access to
Usenet's more risque newsgroups. Individual users will be able to
filter specific discussion groups with Surfwatch software though.