It is official, Microsoft has announced that the MSN Direct service will be shut down in 2012. The announcement was made via the MSN Direct Support blog which revealed that the service would come to an end on January 1, 2012. So what happens to the subscriptions? If you have paid for beyond 2012, a pro-rated refund strategy has been put into place, but complete details are yet unknown. Lifetime members will similarly get a refund ONLY IF their subscription is less than three years old at the time of cancellation.
The MSN Direct service provides traffic reports, weather information, gas prices, stock quotes, and data for navigation systems via FM subcarrier signals. Although the Direct service will not work beyond 2012, Microsoft has given the assurance that the navigation systems will work in 2012.
“The delivery of location-based services in the US and Canada has evolved since Microsoft began offering MSN Direct in early 2004” said Microsoft. Reading between the lines, this simply means MSN Direct’s inability to evolve, adapt, and innovate were the reasons for its failure to continue.
The MSN Direct service was launched in 2004; the FM radio-based digital service enables “spot” portable devices to receive data from MSN services. Using this technology, Microsoft was able to broadcast to a wide range of devices which included wristwatches, atomic desktop clocks, in-car GPS satellite navigation units, and even coffee makers. Paid channels were also included and ranged from weather, news, sports to even calendar notifications. In its blog, Microsoft offered another excuse that “unused FM radio spectrum to broadcast data represented a step forward in 2004, however, many choices today including Wi-Fi, cellular, FM RDS and other digital networks are now readily available and continuing to grow in popularity”.