Archive for the ‘Media Center’ Category
It’s been almost 2 years now since Big Screen EPG for WIndows 7 Media Center went on sale for the first time– and that means the first batch of paid/subscribing users are almost at the end of their 2 year subscription period.
Up until now there wasn’t any easy way to resubscribe using the same serial number (as of course no one needed to yet) – so I spent a bit of time upgrading the purchase system to handle this functionality.
The Renew feature has been added to your bigscreenglobal.com account page (just click on ‘Account’ once you’ve logged into your account) – so just click on the appropriate link (next to the subscription you wish to extend) – and it will take you through the purchase wizard with that subscription selected.
Discount for Early Bird Re-Subscribers (+ a small discount for those who aren’t as quick)
As a reward for those who’ve gotten behind this product and previously purchased it – I decided to offer a special discount to those who are renewing (applicable when you renew an existing Big Screen EPG license).
First up there’s an Early Bird discount – which gives you 25% off the original RRP (USD$19.95). This discount will be automatically applied when you go to renew your subscription from now up until 14 days past the expiry date (for example : If your license was due to expire on 1st August 2012 – you have up until 15th August 2012 to get this Early Bird discount)..
If you miss out on the Early Bird discount – then a smaller discount of 10% off the original RRP will be automatically applied to your purchase.
Note that you don’t need any special discount code for these – assuming you’ve clicked on the Renew link – the site will work out which discount you are eligible for and apply it.
Once you’ve renewed – don’t forget to load the Big Screen EPG configuration tool and re-activate your product so that it picks up the new expiry dates.
Notes on Windows 8 support
For those that missed it earlier – there is now a Windows 8 specific version of Big Screen EPG (released along with the v1.5a windows 7 version update back in March of this year) – and available for download right now on the Big Screen EPG product page. If you’re not sure if you are going to upgrade – or you’re running the WIn8 CP (Consumer Preview) – and you might go back to Windows 7 – the good news is the Big Screen EPG license is allowed to be used on both WIndows 7 and Windows 8 (no need to purchase a separate license). As it’s a family license – the main rule is still you can run Big Screen EPG on up to 5 pc’s inside your house – and it doesn’t matter if they are Windows 7 or 8 versions.
Thus far although the Windows 8 version is officially considered to be an unsupported beta product (as is Windows 8 CP) – it appears everything is working as it should – I’ve been personally running Big Screen EPG on Windows 8 CP for over 3 months now and it hasn’t missed a beat. Further good news is that all indications from Microsoft are that what you see in the Windows 8 CP is the exact same build/version of Media Center that you will see available with the final release of Windows 8 later this year (so nothing is expected to break or require further work in Big Screen EPG when that does happen).
The bad news of course (for HTPC enthusiasts) is that Microsoft is all but strangling the Media Center platform to death with their recent decision to remove it from the intended Windows 8 o/s SKU’s and make it an additional addon only (which also requires you update to the Professional SKU of Windows 8 before you are eligible). For this reason it’s entirely likely many of you who are giving Windows 8 CP a spin on your HTPC machines may revert back to Windows 7 if you are forced to pay a whole lot extra for it at release.
So anyhow that’s the news on Big Screen EPG – so don’t forget to go and renew your subscriptions before they expire and you lose your ‘Pro’ features from the product (or do so within 14 days post expiration to get the Early Bird discount). Also don’t forget to re-activate your installed versions to pick up the new subscription expiry dates if you renew!
It’s been a while between releases – however the new version of Media Center (in Windows 8 Consumer Preview) warranted some new releases for Big Screen EPG . As the new version of Media Center is different (under the hood but not above it) – the existing Windows 7 version was broken and needed to be updated.
For Windows 7 users – I developed this with the original users in mind too – so have released updates for both Windows 7 + Windows 8 (which both have all the new enhancements).
You can grab the download now from : http://bigscreenglobal.com/bgproductdownload.aspx?PID=BSEV1 – assuming you are a registered Big Screen EPG user (otherwise you can sign up for the trial and get access that way).
This new v1.5a release provides the following enhancements / new features :
- (Optional) Windows 8 CP Support for both x32+x64 versions (and like will support final release of Windows 8). A separate replacement .exe is provided for this platform (see install notes).All EPG and related features of Big Screen EPG in Windows 7 are now working with Big Screen EPG on Windows 8 (including support for increasing the default number of tuners) – however do note there are some problems with Win8 CP itself (see release notes) with regards to Scheduled Tasks and Network shares.
- New Online updating TV Series Database: The new version will now download ‘metadata files’ for tv series – so you can get the latest updates without having to get a new version of Big Screen EPG. The new database has 2500+ new tv shows + artwork including 2012/2011 titles (and available for download after you install the new version).
- New UI to make increasing number of tuners much easier – previously was a command line option only :
- Enhanced Metro(ish) style User Interface – this is still a work in progress – but I’ve tried (where doable) to enhance the UI to use metro style buttons and layout. There’s a few bits which still look a little ugly.Here’s the new start page for example :
- Some Bug fixes :- Fixed Support for following XMLTV providers :
- Schedules Direct sources now properly parses the Episode ID.
- Added additional support for xmltv_ns with extraction of ‘Part’ numbers
ie. “2 . 23 . 0/2 “ + “2 . 23 . 1/2
- Fixed Add Provider Wizard bug where it was ignoring selection of Enabled/Disabled Channels – plus enhanced some other logic (such as supporting server based presets without passwords).
The new beta release is exactly that (a beta) – so please be sure to not do anything mission critical with it. To use it – you will still need the original setup package (this new version is only provided as a patch at this time).
It’s been tested locally – but may need some more work for release (as well as requiring a proper standalone setup package).
Today I finally got around to getting Media Center up and running on Windows 8 Consumer Preview – aka ‘8MC’ (which was delayed due to my existing ASUS USB Tuner not having correct drivers).
Although it might be a while until I actually use Win8 for real on my HTPC (reality – maybe never) – a number of users out there will no doubt dive headfirst into doing wanting to run the latest and greatest..
I was particularly interested in getting 3rd party EPG imports going (the #1 must have feature for me and for a lot of people using my products) – as it was becoming obvious that under the hood of the ‘seemingly’ identical product – certain things had changed (such as it being recompiled with .NET Framework v4 – previous versions used v2).
As suspected (due to these changes) – the latest released version of Big Screen EPG did not work, and although it reported the EPG import was complete – no imported data was not showing up at all in the system. (NB: this would be the case for all other 3rd party epg tools designed for use with Windows 7)
So hence a bit of tinkering, recompiling and the like was required (using a modified Big Screen EPG version). That is – a test of my kung-fu, pitted against the dastardly plan by Microsoft to provide no technical/developer information or release notes to the public under any circumstances. Luckily I won – and was able to get my first EPG import going. I suspect this may have been the very first successful import done by anyone outside of MSFT (as quite a few things needed to be changed) – so I proudly took a screenshot below for safe keeping :
Note that this is not EIT data – and has channel logo’s, repeat/hd flags, episode title (and all the other bits you’d want from a custom xmltv source). A little later I had all the bits going that I had in Windows 7 (including series images, full Movie Guide support with auto downloading artwork/reviews/etc).
Anyhow – for all the Big Screen EPG users out there wanting to use Win 8 CP – I will try to release something soonish (there’s a few more steps to be done for it to be packaged up + user friendly) – however for the meantime you can sleep safely in your beds knowing 8MC will in fact support 3rd party EPG’s and wasn’t ‘broken’ (when you do get around to using it).
In terms of the other Big Screen products and compatibility with 8MC – here’s the wrap :-
- I successfully Installed and used all 4 of the Big Screen 10 foot addins on Win8CP (‘Weather 2’, ‘Headlines 2’, ‘Photos 2’ and ‘Contacts 2’) – so everyone who has these products will be able to use the currently released version. I’m not going to officially offer any support (or updates) of these for Windows 8 – however they do appear to work as expected. Note that you need to install the .NET v2/v3.5 Windows features (it will prompt you during first setup) – before these addins will install properly.
- Although I’ve not tested it yet – it’s highly unlikely ByRemote will work in it’s current form (without being recompiled using .NET Framework v4 and referencing the new Win8 CP DLL’s – which hopefully shouldn’t be too difficult). I’ll have a look at that product later.
Also – for those struggling with drivers on Win8 CP (particularly tv tuner ones) – from what I’ve seen the deal is this : Win8 likes Windows 7 certified drivers but doesn’t seem to play with ones not updated since Vista Certification. This can be a problem as many of the tuner cards didn’t get Windows7 specific drivers ever written for them (such as the ASUS U3000 Mini USB stick I have) – which was acceptable as Windows 7 worked fine with Vista drivers.
Stay tuned for more..
A few folks out in the blogosphere have been kind enough to take the time to write some nice reviews for Big Screen byRemote for Windows Phone 7.
You can check these out on the following links :
- Review by Motz – (see below for Video) -
Big Screen byRemote Windows Phone 7 App Review
- Review by Simon May / Microsoft -
A look at byRemote for Windows Phone 7
- Review by JayC -
Big Screen ‘byRemote’ for Windows Phone 7
- Review by Terry Walsh / Microsoft-
byRemote Takes Your TV Guide On the Road With You
Also if you haven’t checked it out yet – be sure to visit the the brand new mobilewares.net website – which has product pages for all the Windows Phone 7 products released by mobilewares so far to Windows Phone Marketplace.
If you like it (and you’re one of the odd 600 million folks with a facebook account) – be sure to click the ‘Like’ button in the Nav bar on the mobilewares site.
Also note that our Media Center site is still up and running on the http://bigscreenglobal.com URL).
The following Youtube video is from the DigitalMediaZone review mentioned above :