Archive for the ‘Windows 7’ 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!
The final version (v1.0a) of Big Screen byRemote has now been made available and is now available for download for all registered bigscreenglobal.com users.
This final release comes in two flavours -
- A *FREE* “Basic Edition” (which never expires) – and offers the majority of the functionality you’ve so far seen in the beta versions (with a few minor limitations on the Silverlight client – and with no restrictions on the Mobile XHTML client).
- A “Pro Edition” ($TBA) – which will in future offer some additional/new functionality – plus remove any restrictions/limitations of the Basic Edition. Note that the Pro Edition is not yet available for purchase – and will be made available sometime in the future (when this new functionality is added).
Note that users who download/register byRemote on their PC’s will be automatically given ‘trial’ access to the Pro Edition (Currently hardcoded to December 1st, 2010 – but will likely be extended) – and when that expiry date is reached the software will drop back to the “Basic Edition” – which will never expire.
Additionally – those who purchase the Windows Phone 7 native client (available soon via Windows Marketplace) – will only need to use the free “Basic Edition” to get the full functionality from the native client (so no purchase beyond Windows Marketplace will be required).
The new version contains a few improvements to the previous beta version (v0.6x releases) such as :
- Enhanced Silverlight UI with numerous bug fixes and some minor visual enhancements to the existing functionality.
- Extended Support for the Windows Phone 7 client (which will be available soon via Windows Phone Marketplace).
- Enhanced support/fixes for those using reverse proxies (and other more complex networking setups where IP Address/URL is remapped/routed)
- Note that the IUI (IPad/iPhone) specific browser experience has been dropped for this release and most users preferred the XHTML client anyhow on these devices (and the IUI based client will be rewritten in future).
Now that the final release milestone has been reached – I’d like to again say ”thank-you” to all those who participated in the beta of this product (and provided tons of great feedback, bug reports and suggestions) – and helped make this final version possible - and for part of this thank-you I’ve made this Basic Edition product free forever (so hope this keeps many users happy!).
I look forward to further enhancing this product in future..
I’m proud to announce that the final version of Big Screen byRemote for Windows Phone 7 was submitted to the Windows Phone Marketplace this morning for certification – and should hopefully be available for Trial and Purchase in time for the global Handset launch next week (Oct 21 in Europe/Asia/AU/NZ).
Secondly – I’m also happy to announce that the v1.0 ‘Basic Edition’ of Big Screen byRemote (the bit you install on Windows 7 Media Center) – to be launched shortly - will be made available completely FOR FREE with no expiry date! (as in free beer, free food etc).
The ‘Basic Edition’ will contain most of the functionality you are getting right now in the Beta version (with a few minor limitations/exclusions – but no show stoppers) – and will be all that is required if you want to run the Windows Phone 7 client (or other native mobile clients which may appear in future) – plus will offer the Silverlight 4 browser client and XHTML Mobile editions. Over the coming months – I also intend to launch a ‘Pro Edition’ for purchase which will contain some new and exciting features (plus no limitations) – and will be optionally available for purchase .
As mentioned - since the Host Server (Basic Edition) is going to be made available for free (and all you require to run the WP7 client) – it’s intended that users will be asked to pay a small amount for the native mobile clients (when purchasing via the Windows Phone 7 App Marketplace). The initial price for the Windows Phone 7 version will be set to be USD$4.99 – which can be installed on up to 5 devices which share a Windows Live account (note : the 5 device per login limitation is that which is enforced by Marketplace). I’m still getting my head around how the pricing gets converted to other currencies – but I believe this is around EURO4.50.
A (non expiring) Trial version will also be available on Windows Phone Marketplace – and will allow you to preview all the functionality you will get (but restricts what channels you can view / and limits the scheduling capabilities to your first 3 channels).
Also – for those who haven’t been keeping up with the WP7 press launch – when purchasing from Windows Marketplace (on WP7) – you should be able to either use your credit card (and will be processed by Microsoft) – or you can charge the purchase directly to your phone bill (nb: this second option is carrier dependant – so may not be available in some cases).
Pricing for the ‘Pro Edition’ of the Server will be decided at a later date as feature set is finalized (but should be a very reasonable/cheap price).
Enhanced Windows Phone 7 features (since the previous video)
This feature has been often requested by Windows 7 users (who want to configure more than 4 tuners in Media Center) – and although I figured this out a while back (during Beta2) – I wasn’t allowed to reveal/share how this was actually done.
Since the cat’s now finally out of the bag – I’m happy to finally be able to reveal the ability to do this has actually been built into Big Screen EPG for probably 1.5 years now – since v0.2beta (and I previously couldn’t reveal it due to it being a secret – but given this other tool has now been released – it’s no longer the case).
I’ve been personally using 6 x DVB-T tuners on my own system for a while now – and although it was a little flakey in the past (with some tuners having signal strength issues – probably due to my booster/splitter not being good enough) – the June/July Cumulative updates seem to have stabilized it somewhat.
To utilize this feature – you need to have v0.2beta (ie. Feb 2009 release or later) of Big Screen EPG (v1.0b final is latest version) – and do the following -
- Install all the tuners you wish to use on Windows 7 (so drivers etc are installed in Device Manager).
- Do an initial Live TV Setup in Media Center so the country defaults are loaded in (so go to at least the point where you start scanning for stations – and you can stop the scan straight away if you want). Don’t setup any epg’s etc at this point – it’s just important that the database is initialized.
- Open a command prompt (preferably run as administrator).
- change to the Big Screen EPG Install Directory :
ie. ‘cd %Program Files%Big ScreenEpg’
- Run the bsetool.exe using the –pimptuner command line option (as follows ) :
Syntax : bsetool.exe –pimptuner:<numberoftuners>:<vss-locale>
ie. To Enable up to 32 tuners for Australia (locale = ‘vss-au’)
Note: For other countries – find out the correct iso country code and insert it there –
vss-gb : UK
vss-nz : New Zealand
vss-no : Norway
vss-de : Germany
vss-dk : Denmark
vss-ca : Canada
Note that for the USA – it’s a little different and I think you can just use ‘vss’ by itself (although doing same command line with ‘vss-us’ won’t hurt either).
- Now go back into Windows 7 Media Center and run the live tv setup again (run the setup tv signal so it wipes your existing configuration) – and presto – all your additional tuners will be available in the list (where normally it would only show you the first 4 tuners at most in the past).
That’s it – enjoy – and now there’s absolutely no reason not to upgrade to Windows 7 Media Center (I know a bunch of you were sticking with MCE2005 and Vista RTM for this reason)…
I’m pleased to announce that Big Screen EPG has taken won the “Best Commercial Application for Windows Media Center” category in The Digital Lifestyle.com 2009 Awards (Click link for podcast).
A huge thanks to everyone who voted for this product (I’m humbled)– and even bigger thanks to all the beta testers out there who have helped shape this product into what it is today (by providing your feedback, bug reports). As many of you know – the actual paid version of this product is not yet actually available – however the beta is available for everyone to try (with current expiry of 1-May-2010) – so click here for more information on how to get registered.
I won’t put any spoilers on this blog post – but you can see the full list of winners/runners up for all the TDL 2009 Awards on this blog post (if you don’t want to listen to the podcast) – congratulations to all the other winners (and nominees).
The final version of the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows 7 was released on MSDN yesterday and is available for download from the following link :
There’s pretty much nothing new to see, do or use (except some updated/finalized documentation) – if you’ve already downloaded the pre-release versions (which came out initially at PDC along with the M3 release of Win7 back in Nov’08 – and then was later updated for Windows 7 Release Candidate in January this year). Please see my previous posts Media Center SDK v6.0 (for Windows 7 Build 7000) and iTv Applications + Media Center SDK v6.0 (Windows 7 M3) First Impressions for more information there.
In fact – unless your after some pretty specific (and less than useful) changes offered in the Win7 incarnation of this SDK – my best advice to developers would be to completely give this SDK a miss – and instead revert back to Vista Media Center SDK /along with Vista Dev platform (if you do plan on persisting with Media Center development).
The reason for this is that while you’ll get pretty much nothing to shout about in this new SDK over Vista, the big downside is that your app’s created with this SDK (and compiled against WIndows 7 Media Center API’s) will not work in Vista. Whereas – if you develop against the Vista API’s – and tweak your Installer’s accordingly – your apps should work fine on Windows 7 (nb: if you’re developing against the ehRec dll’s or some of the other “non MCPL” functionality this may break on TVPack or Windows 7). At the moment (and at least for next 6-12 months) – the market for Windows 7 Media Center users would be pretty small (well even smaller than Vista that is) – so you’re better off ensuring you’re supporting both these platforms.
All in all – this SDK is a big disappointment for developers – as while the Windows 7 platform and new versions of Media Center are great products (and a big improvements over Vista) – the minimal API changes completely missed out on taking advantage some of any of great new features (ie. no support for Multi Touch, no support for the new EPG database, etc and the list goes on.. ). It’s a laundry list of what ‘could have been’…
While MCPL (Media Center Presentation Layer) started off looking like a very promising dev platform (when it appeared during the Vista Beta) – the enthusiasm from Microsoft (and along with it the support and follow through you’d expect from a dev platform) – died a quick and sudden death pretty much after Vista was released. This is very apparent when you look at the lack of changes/enhancements for MCPL offered in this new SDK (most of which are simply ‘quick win’ helper classes offering no more functionality than what was already possible), the death of Media Center focused developer blogging, and the complete lack of support being offered by MS on their dev sites (while you can get some answers for some of the non MCPL API’s – getting an answer beyond ‘go look at the sdk’ is a real challenge).
So … some wise(?) advice to those wanting to creating 10 foot applications (with a UI – as opposed to a background addin or desktop utility) – is perhaps you’d get a lot more mileage looking at some developer options other than MCPL.
Instead – the majority of alternate options for development are enabled via the support for IE browser hosted addins – which in turn allow you to use Silverlight, Flash and even WPF/XBAP applications (which can still be used in the browser ‘host’ – regardless of whether they have token ‘native’ support by Media Center). All of these alternative platforms seem to go the full 9 yards and the whole dev and release cycle seem to have been properly thought out and followed through (wheras MCPL offered very raw dev support with no WYSIWYG designers, poor documentation – and as mentioned the ‘actual’ developer support was non existent – and any hope of future enhancements or improvements looks extremely bleak).
The news isn’t all bad for Media Center dev’s on Windows 7 though if you look beyond the SDK –
The news isn’t all bad for Media Center dev’s on Windows 7 though if you look beyond the SDK –as the functionality offered by the new MXF spec and ‘loadmxf’ functionality (documented in a different place on MSDN altogether) – have enabled a bunch of cool stuff to be done with the new Media Center EPG database – like my own app ‘Big Screen EPG’ … 8)… As mentioned above though – don’t expect the actual SDK to give you any more bling in this area – as there’s no decent API hooks into the new EPG database or TV/PVR functionality to take advantage of this (ie. the recording/pvr hooks seem to still be written based on functionality introduced in the 5 yr old MCE2005 EPG and are severely lacking , and the complete lack of ‘more with this’ extensibility hooks to the new EPG and TV Series related pages in Media Center).
Anyhow – going forward – I’m not sure where things are heading for Windows 8 with Media Center Development as a whole – and it’s looking unlikely that MCPL will ever be touched again with the new ‘TV on your PC’ push (rather than ‘PC’ or ‘Extender on your TV’ line) – and almost complete lack of engagement with the community of MCPL developers from the Extensibility team (who seem to have so far
completely ignored ‘misplaced’ all the suggestions/feedback and requests for developer enhancements on MCPL made by so many of us – after being asked to spend loads of time doing so).
I hope I’m wrong – and that things will all get better – only time will tell (and perhaps if I received some replies to my emails I’d be better informed too – but for now it’s the ‘mushroom treatment’ for all of us)… I do hope Microsoft’s MC Extensibility team make some actual decisions one way or another on all this (rather than sitting on the fence and not doing anything properly) – and I’d be happy if they would focus on a smaller subset of enhancements and do them ‘properly’ – such as real extensibility and hooks into the Media Center internals – and leave the UI stuff to the pro’s (ie. Silverlight, WPF or XNA teams) – who do understand the whole end to end cycle of developing UI centric API’s.
On Friday (to coincide with the RTM release of Windows 7 to Technet and MSDN) – a new update for Big Screen EPG (a 3rd party EPG Importer for Windows 7) was launched – v0.4e. Registered users can download it now from http://bigscreenglobal.com – or if you want to sign up (its free) – please see the instructions as per previous post.
The changes in the version include a full/comprehensive Windows HTML Help File (as full docs have been missing in previous v0.4x releases), reinstatement of the ‘Rescan Providers Wizard’ and ‘Toggle Channel Logos in grid’ functions (also missing since v0.3x), some fixes – and some new new features for Auto Mapping of imported EPG Listings to Media Center Channels. (which will make things a lot easier for UK and DVB-S users with loads of channels).
Additionally (available via same download page) – v0.7 of a new utility BSXFix (Big Screen EPG XMLTV File Fixer) was released. This utility (as the name suggests) – will auto-repair/fix up XMLTV files that contain invalid/undeclared ‘XML Entities’ – so they can be imported into Big Screen EPG (or another XML parser) without errors. This was developed as many ‘xmltv’ online sources have been generated via ‘scraping’ HTML based web sites – and hence carried through metadata which was invalid in the context of XML (ie. usage of HTML only entities such as ‘£ ‘ etc which haven’t been properly ‘declared’ in the XML file header).
The ‘fixed’ expiry date for the ‘trial version’ has also been extended to November 1st, 2009 (about a week after the launch of Windows 7 to retail) – which gives you an extra 2 months to play with the ‘full features’ of Big Screen EPG. Users who have already installed a previous v0.4x release can simply run the ‘reverify registration’ function to pick up the new expiry date (v0.4e release is not required to enjoy this).
Please also note – once your Big Screen EPG ‘trial period’ expires – this product will still continue to work – in a reduced *free* mode. (ie. it does not ‘stop working’ as incorrectly reported in quite a few blogs/forums – just to reiterate – the ‘trial’ mode is a trial of the ‘paid version’ which provides numerous additional features over the free version.)
Please see below for some more information on the Big Screen EPG v0.4e release (taken from the release notes).
Release Notes for v0.4e :
- FYI: The download size for the installer has now jumped from 2.5mb to 6.5mb. This is due to the new help file being included (which is around 4mb compressed due to it containing a lot of screenshots/diagrams and text).
- Added: Added full documentation for v0.4x (in form of Windows HTML Help File). This documentation can also be downloaded seperately.
- Added: Added ‘Auto Classification Mapping’ tab on Channel Configuration – allows similar concept to the ‘Auto Genre Mapping’ – where Classifications can be automatically assigned on a ‘per channel basis’
- Added: (Experimental) Advanced EPG Channel > Tuned Channel mapping functionality (currently testing against DVB-S UK sources) – for users with tuner types who can’t utilize ‘auto’ channel number or callsign matching (and needed to manually add listing to each channel in 7MC). Note that this is not available for STB’s (not possible with mxf functionality provided with RC or RTM releases) – but instead is for DVB-S (and DVB-S2/C/T… I think) – and uses the actual tuning locator info for matching (ie. ‘DVBx:xx:xx:xx:xx:etc’). For those that use DVB-S and have loads of channels – this will make you very happy campers (I think) – and probably save you 1000 odd remote control clicks.
- Enhanced: Reinstated/Added ‘Rescan Providers’ function so that new Channels, Genres and Classifications can be picked up from existing configured providers. For Australian users – this is important due to the release of new FTA Digital channels – which will appear over time in your XMLTV Sources (Channel Nine’s GO! is being launched today, Channel 7 will release their new channel in next 2 months and ABC will release ABC3 in December).
- Enhanced: Reinstated the ‘Toggle Channel Logos in Grid’ (due to some users wanting to be able to turn of Logos in Grid – and have them appear in info/details area only).
- Fixed: V0.4a-d was ignoring the TimeZone shift minutes setting for providers.
As part of the Big Screen EPG (for Windows 7) product offering – a core important component (which hasn’t yet been announced/released) - is the ‘by Remote’ client application. This product aims to provide some of the functionality previously provided by Webguide (currently available only for Vista Media Center) – with a focus on the PVR side of things. (such as browsing/searching the EPG and managing scheduled recordings).
‘Big Screen EPG – by Remote’ (codename) is designed to target both 2 ‘ and 1 “ clients – by providing a Silverlight 2 client for the desktop (which is hence usable on most versions of Windows and Mac o/s) – an XHTML expierience (Mobile site) with reduced functionality – as well as an iPhone optimized HTML site.
The ‘server’ product is currently deployed as a single .exe file (only 400k in size) – which contains it’s own inbuilt Web Server (so no need to install IIS or Casini) – and all required content (such as the Silverlight .xap) and host pages/images are delivered right out of this single .exe as well (and are embedded as resources). In a simple configuration – users can then expose the required ports via their firewall – so this client can be accessed from remote locations (over the internet) – or via the local network.
Please Note : Currently, this product is only designed to view EPG Data imported to Windows Media Center 7 by Big Screen EPG – and will not allow access to EPG data provided by Microsoft (or EIT) providers.
‘by Remote’ Silverlight 2 Client
While the UI (and product) are still a work in progress – some screenshots of an early version of the Silverlight 2 App are pictured below (click for full sized images) –
loading page EPG Browsing
popup program info view upcoming recording
series browser series keyword searching
The client app is very small/lightweight (and designed to deal with slow upload speeds from your internet connection) – and all requests/responses are compressed (and encrypted) between server and client. Typical download sizes while using application (which is data being served up from your machine) – may be 20-50k for a day’s worth of raw EPG data (when browsing EPG – you can view an entire day without reloading more data) – smaller then a lot of image files you’d download.
A nice feature on this product (which I believe is different that a lot of the other remote recording clients on Vista) – is that when you make scheduled recordings it does ‘proper’ series + program recording (if applicable) – rather than just doing ‘Keyword’ recordings (which can not always work as expected). This is made possible by the fact that you’re browsing metadata from your own machine – rather than from some shared server/epg store.
‘by Remote’ iPhone Web App
The mobile experience for by Remote will be a subset of important functions found in the Silverlight app (as it’s not practical to browse entire epg’s on a small device).
A couple of (sorry- blurry) screenshots are below :
The XHTML version (targeted for Windows Mobile, Blackberry etc) will also provide a similar set of reduced functionality.
‘by Remote’ Server / 7MC Integration
The server for this (as mentioned above) contains it’s own built in web-server – and is designed to be accessed wherever you have internet or network access to your Windows Media Center 7 machine. (and doesn’t require Live Mesh, WHS or any other remote/connection framework to get to your machine). At the moment the prototype is a windows .exe – but this will be converted over to be a windows service (so noone needs to be logged into your local machine).
The server also has the ability to act as a proxy to other Media Center Servers – so rather than expose every 7MC machine in your house to the internet (and remember a bunch of ports/addresses) – you can just access a single server – which in turn will relay (and get response from) the other media center machines that are pre-configured (and provide a friendly access page with a directory of configured machines).
Down the track – I’m also considering developing a WHS addin version of this product (which would then act purely as a ‘proxy’ server) – but am not convinced yet about whether there’s enough users out there to justify it.
- - - - - –
The ‘by Remote’ client will be made available over next couple of months – and will be offered as part of the Big Screen EPG product.
Also – depending on how soon Silverlight 3 is released – an ‘out of browser’ (standalone desktop app rather than inside browser) version of this will also be on offer.
This past weekend – v0.4 of Big Screen EPG (a 3rd party EPG Importer for Windows 7) was launched to beta testers.
As per previous post – the beta program for this product is now public – so you can signup yourself (via your bigscreenglobal.com account) and get started straight away.
This version is a significant enhancement upon previous releases – some highlights including :
- .MSI Setup Program (with Program Menu/Icons etc for easy setup/configuration – no more messing around with command prompts and windows explorer)
- Online Registration Wizard – with new expiry date to 1-Sep-09. (v0.3 will expire 1/Jul)
- Substantially improved (and rewritten) XMLTV Processing Engine – supports lots of new metadata.
- New processing engine now supports huge EPG feeds (such as those used by US and Canadian users containing 200,000+ programs) – whilst keeping a low memory/cpu footprint.
- Substantially Enhanced UI with new lots of new features/smarts.
- Media Center ‘Reset Tool’ Wizard – which clears/resets the Media Center Configuration DB (taking you back to ‘first run’ state in Media Center)
- Scheduled Tasks Manager – for creating/automating BSE Processing Tasks via Windows Task Scheduler
v0.4 also now utilizes Serial Numbers/Registration as per other Big Screen products (rather than just having a hardcoded expiry date in the executable) – and introduces part of the new licensing model which will be available on the final version of Big Screen EPG.
Determined via your Serial Number – Big Screen EPG will run in one of 4 modes (nb: Not yet finalized) –
- Trial Version - (Currently hardcoded to expire on Sep-1 – but will likely be extended). In future this trial period will be 30-90 days from activation (TBD) – and will allow full usage of Big Screen EPG product (without limitations). Once your Trial has expired – you will now be able to continue using the product in a limited ‘free’ mode – or upgrade to a paid version.
- *FREE* / ‘Lite’ Version – as indicated – you will be able to use Big Screen EPG for free forever (once trial has expired) – but it will run with ‘reduced’ functionality – such as being restricted to 4 days of guide data, less ‘bling’ (no Series Artwork and other enhanced Metadata such as Actors/Credits) and other restrictions.
- ‘Standard’ Subscription – allows full usage of Big Screen EPG on 1x Media Center machine for period of subscription (will be offered in 6 month, 1 year and 2 year renewable periods). Pricing is TBD. Additional Services such as Remote Recording Management (and other goodies) will also be rolled out soon.
- ‘Pro’ Subscription – Same features as Standard Versions – but can be run on multiple Media Center machines inside a single residence. (for those hardcore users who have several HTPC’s around the house). Pricing is TBD.
Note that the Paid Subscription services will be introduced/available sometime after Windows 7 Final Version comes out and the current ‘v1’ Big Screen EPG product is finalized. The Trial Version (and automatic fallback to Free mode once trial expires) is available in the current public v0.4 beta.
Some Screenshots are below ….
New UI – now with a horizontal tab layout (which is now available via the Start Menu and via Desktop Shortcut). This new layout makes provides a lot more screen realestate
Scheduled Task Manager - automates the creation/management of the scheduled task for processing new EPG data.
Media Center ‘Reset’ Wizard – runs a Media Center Database Reset – with lots of friendly warnings.
Enhanced ‘Add Dummy Channel’ UI – adds default program information for Channels which don’t have EPG Data. The updated version now downloads a list of ‘known’ preset stations from bigscreenglobal.com (currently only Australian DVB-T channels appear in this list).
More Advanced Options – such as the ‘Language Settings’ tab which allows you to specify what your preferred languages are (for XMLTV feeds which has metadata for multiple languages).
Activation/Reverify Wizard – similar to that featured on the Big Screen products for Media Center – this will activate and ‘reverify’ your serial number with the online server (and latest expiry date/registration details can be set without reinstallation).
Since the Big Screen EPG Private Beta fired up in February this year – users have been (automatically/anonymously) submitting stats on their TV watching and Series recording habits to the bigscreenglobal.com website. These stats are compiled each time user’s process a new XMLTV feed (an XML file containing custom Electronic Program Guide data) and import it into Windows 7 using Big Screen EPG. Then over on the bigscreenglobal.com website – every 30 mins or so – some background tasks have been processing, crunching and matching up the submitted data – to produce a real time TV Ratings system. (code named ‘pvrWatch’)…
In order to make these stats viewable by the public (via their browsers) – a web application has been created (powered with Microsoft Silverlight v2) – which allows users to browse / search this data – and provide a little eye candy along the way. (Nb: a Media Center ‘Addin’ version of this application is also nearly ready and will be launched soon).
Since pictures tell a thousand words – here’s a quick run down on what this application is all about.
[pvrWatch Home Page]
When you launch the application (in your browser) – the following ‘start page’ is shown. This page gives you a quick overview of the ‘Top Recorded Series’ and ‘Most Watched TV’ – with tabs to nominate which country/region you wish to view.
NB: Currently only Australia, New Zealand and UK are provided (due to most of the users in the private beta being from Australia/NZ) – however the ‘global’ rankings (for series) are collated across all users (from all countries). As the beta expands – and enough users from other countries are submitting stats – then these countries will also be added here.
You can then click through to view more details on Top Series and Most Watched TV (via the buttons at the bottom).
[pvrWatch Top 50 TV Series]
The Top 50 TV Series charts are compiled from the Series Recording Requests they have set up in Media Center. On the home page – you can view the top 8 Series – and also view items for ‘Whats Hot/Whats Not’, Top Rated, New This week and more.
You can then drill down to an entire list of the Top 50 Series. For each entry – there’s some information such as a Star Rating, Relative Percentage Bar (compared to the most recorded series) – plus information on the ‘Previous Week/Months’ ranking. (so you can see if the Series is gaining or losing popularity – similar to a Billboard Music chart).
You can also modify the criteria for results (at present – you can nominate the country/region to view).
In (upcoming) future versions – user will also be able to drill down on a TV Series – and submit their own Star Ratings, Comments and Recommendations (which in turn will feed back into the EPG that gets imported to Media Center via Big Screen EPG).
[pvrWatch Most Watched Television]
The ‘Most Watched Television’ charts track users live tv viewing habits – and provide a ‘live’ Ratings system (similar in concept to the Neilson and OZTam ratings systems we have in Australia). These stats are compiled by adding up the minutes each user spent watching a channel. Currently the Most Watched ratings are available for Free To Air and Pay TV channels – in Australia, New Zealand and UK.
If you’re viewing Free To Air channels – there’s 2 views – one by ‘Channel’ and another by ‘Broadcaster’.
Since there’s actually a lot more unique channels (or services) than what is displayed – these are grouped into parent ‘channels’ (which may have unique line up of programs). For example – the entry ‘NINE’ covers results from the channels Nine Digital, Nine HD Digital, WIN SD + Win HD(Regional) and any other regional affiliates that essentially show the channel Nine schedule.
The ‘Broadcasters’ tab then groups results into the parent ‘Broadcast’ company – for example TEN Network will include results from Ten Digital, ONE SD/HD (Network TEN’s sports channel) + all the regional stations showing their content. Similarly ‘ABC TV’ will cover all results from ABC 1, ABC 2, ABC HD, ABC Dig Radio, ABC Dig Jazz etc.
Australian Ratings by Broadcaster :
You can also use the inbuilt Search form to view historical results (by Month, Week, etc), nominate a different country and chose between Free To Air and Pay TV results.
Check It Out for Yourself….
If you want to check it out for yourself – you can either
a) sign up for the Big Screen EPG (and you’ll be provided with a direct link into this application from your account menu)
(for a limited time – so readers without Windows 7 or Big Screen EPG can have a look)
b) visit the page http://bigscreenglobal.com/epg/livestats.aspx? and enter the password ‘tunedin’.
(nb: if you are signed into bigscreenglobal.com already – you won’t be asked for the password).
Stay tuned for more….
More Interactive features (and some other interesting charts) will be added over time (so keep visiting to see what’s new). As mentioned above – a Media Center Addin will also be made available (probably alongside the next BSE update) – so you can view pvrWatch from inside Media Center.