White Previews Homepage
Last Updated 5/11/99, 3:00 PM
Old Survey, Thanks!
Hello White previewers,
Thanks to everyone who participated in the first part of the survey. You should have received a second survey in email, and we hope you'll have time to send those in soon. Many thanks, and keep up the good and Grungy work! Charlie and Noel
Pay Per View-O-Rama
All free all the time! (Well, at least for a little while...) That's right--in order to get feedback on whether the PPV purchase process is working correctly, we're giving you the capacity to order unlimited free PPV events. (Thanks to EchoStar for making this possible!) Don't worry--you'll be testing this for about a week, so you don't have to get it all out of your system today. :) There are several things we want you to look for while purchasing and watching PPV events. When you first select and purchase an event, do you get a message that your purchase was successful, or do you get an error message ("This event is no longer available for purchase" or the like)? If you do get an error message, what happens afterward? If your purchase is successful, does the program you selected show up as it should? We're also interested in other observations on what else happens with your unit after you've made a purchase--does it seem to work normally? Does it seem slower? Do you run into any problems? After ordering an event, please watch it for at least 10 minutes (you are, of course, welcome to watch the whole thing); this will allow your unit to report the purchase to DISH Network (a process that needs to happen in order for this testing to be effective). Also, please be sure a phone line is connected to the box while you're ordering PPVs. You're welcome to share thoughts, observations, questions, etc., about PPV purchasing in the newsgroup, but please be sure to submit feedback via Problem Report forms as well.
Build Notes--5231 The vast majority of the changes that have been made with the latest build of WebTV software--5231--are behind-the-scenes modifications and improvements that won't be visible to you. Most of these changes are aimed at improving features such as TV Pause and general TV viewing. We know there are some pesky bugs still out there--such as the crash when changing channels in the PIP--and we are working on getting fixes out for them ASAP. In the meantime, thanks for your patience! New Service Upgrade: Grunge! Notice anything different about WebTV today? We just released a new service upgrade to a few of the Previews groups. This upgrade, affectionately called Grunge (following Disco, Etude, and Funk--notice a theme here?), contains a whole mess of new features, as well as some big changes in the way things look. For the lowdown on all the new features in Grunge, check out the New Features page. As always, please bear in mind that this new service is something that's not yet available to the wider WebTV population, so please don't mention the changes and new features you see to anyone who is not in the White group. Enjoy!
TV Pause In addition to the new features in Grunge, we ask that you continue testing the features you already have--most notably, TV Pause. This feature, which you can access by hitting the Options key/button when you're watching fullscreen TV, allows you to pause a TV program for up to 30 minutes. A few things to keep in mind about
TV Pause: TV Pause allows you to pause a program for up to 30 minutes. When you've reached the 30 minute limit, the program you're pausing will automatically start playing from the point at which you paused it. Once you've paused a program, a timer will count the number of minutes and seconds the program has been paused for. When you're ready to start playing the program, choose Play. The program will play from where you've stopped it. If you'd like to skip the portion of the program you've delayed, choose Skip Delay. TV Pause will allow you only to pause and play back a program; it *will not* allow you to rewind, fast forward, or replay sections of a program you've already viewed. Pausing and playing back a program will cause you to fall behind normal broadcasting times on all channels except the one you're on. That is, if you pause a program on channel 110 for 15 minutesstarting at 3:45 and then watch it, you can continue watching channel 110 without missing any of the program that begins at 4:00. However, if you switch to channel 135 after watching the program you've paused, you will miss the first 15 minutes of the program on that channel that began at 4:00. As always, please be sure to submit your feedback via the Problem Report form (which is linked from the sidebar on the left). And of course, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-470-4812 with any questions, comments, or concerns. Happy Testing! Emily
Last updated 4/14/99
Grunge is a major overhaul of the way WebTV looks today, and there are many new features. New Features
Your Pages - This feature will allow WebTV users to build their own web pages on the WebTV network. Publishing is easy and self-explanatory, and once you get there it will be quite simple. From the Home page, select Community, and then select Your Pages. Goodbye Explore, Hello InfoCenters! - With the tremendous success of MyWebTV, we've decided to merge MyWebTV and Explore to make a bigger and better source of information for our users. This feature will be called InfoCenters, and it will provide links to WebTV Today, News, Sports, Entertainment, Money, and Shopping. Within each of these InfoCenters you will find that you have more control over what you see. Improved Settings and Account Information - You may notice that there is no longer a "Using WebTV" link on the Home page. Don't worry, with Grunge we've made it easier to access and change your account information and settings. The two new links- Settings and Account - will lead you to new and more informative pages. We are particularly excited about the new Billing Statement link on the Account page. This new feature will provide our paying customers with a way to access their Billing Statement on-line. Better Help - It's now easier than ever to get help with using WebTV. The convenient Help link on the homepage provides four different sources of information: Tour, Instructions, Help Center, and Club WebTV. Email Name - By popular demand, WebTV users can now send email and post to newsgroups from their primary user's account without having to include their real first and last names. Under Mail, select Settings, and then select Mail name. Dynamic new ads! - With all the changes we've made with Grunge, you may also notice that there are some new advertisements on various pages. Advertisements allow us to bring new features and upgrades to our customers at a low monthly cost. Other Non-Grunge Features
The Big One: Initial Upgrade
The hardware you'll be testing takes advantage of one of the most important features of the WebStar box: the ability to take an upgrade from the satellite. When we work on a new version of software, it goes through many different phases before we consider it ready to be shipped out. These phases happen pretty rapidly, so what's current one week may be out of date the next. The WebTV/EchoStar boxes you'll be receiving are programmed to perform only one function when they're first connected: to accept an upgrade from the satellite . This upgrade delivers to the boxes the most recent version of software we have available (from both WebTV and EchoStar). Once the boxes take the upgrade, they will have full functionality again. What does this mean for you? Simply that we need you to take a look at the following list of steps--those that your box is supposed to go through once you connect it and turn it on--and let us know whether these are actually the steps it does go through. Read on. When you first turn your box on, you should see a screen that says "Welcome". The next screen should provide a basic introduction to using WebTV (using the remote, arrow keys, etc.). Next, you should see a screen informing you that you need to set up and point your satellite dish. Once you choose continue, you'll be taken to The Dish Pointing screen. Once you've established a strong signal strength, choose Done. Next, you'll see a notice that there's an upgrade available. Choose Upgrade to accept it. The Upgrade screen will show a status bar indicating how much of the download is complete and how much is left to go. This first upgrade page deals with EchoStar software that is being downloaded to your box. When it's complete, you will see Another upgrade page, this one dealing with WebTV software. After both upgrades are complete, you'll be taken through a series of Introduction screens. If you are unable to go through these steps and accept the upgrades, please give me a call at 650-470-4812. If you are able to take the upgrades but notice anything that seems wrong or out of place in the steps described above, please file a Problem Report with as much detailed information as possible (i.e., which page had the problem, what about that page did not seem right, etc.). Once you've set up accounts with both EchoStar and WebTV (see the "Hello, Previewers!" letter I sent along with your boxes for instructions), you'll be able to use your unit normally.
Each night, EchoStar broadcasts a data stream that contains TV Listings and, on occasion, other information as well. This data is generally broadcast between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.; each download takes approximately 20-30 minutes. If you're watching TV when a download becomes available, you'll see a notice on screen telling you that your unit will tune to another channel in order to accept the download. When the download is taking place, you won't be able to watch TV. You can choose not to accept a download when it's offered, but please be aware that it may not be offered again until the following night. If you're not watching TV when a download is broadcast, your box will automatic ally accept it. After a data download, your unit will have updated TV Listings. Data downloads may also include Notices from EchoStar (see below for more info) and, on occas ion, a software upgrade. Throughout this trial, when we include an upgrade as part of a nightly download, we will let you know in advance. When your box dow nloads an upgrade during the nightly broadcast, that upgrade will go into effect the next time you turn your box on.
TV World Features
You can now lock your WebTV unit to block access to certain programs or channels, to prevent access to Pay-Per-View events, or set a PPV spending limit. To access the locking feature, choose Settings on the TV Home page, and then choose Locking. From there, you'll be able to set a ratings limit, block certain channels, block access to PPV or set a spending limit for PPV, and disable the but tons on the front of your WebTV unit. When you choose any of these options, you'll be given more information on what it does and how to use it. Pay Per View Information To order a Pay-Per-View (PPV) movie or event, you simply have to choose that event from TV Listings and follow the instructions you see on screen. For a record of the PPV events you've chosen, go to Purchases under TV Planner. You'll see a list of the shows you've purchased, when they're scheduled for broadcast, and how much they cost.
Screen and Audio settings
This feature, under Settings, allows you to do three things: 1.)adjust how the WebTV screen looks on your TV; 2.)choose a picture size for display (standard aspect ratio vs. cinematic aspect ratio); and 3.)choose an alternate audio lang uage for programs that are broadcast with soundtracks other than English. Option 1 is the same as Screen settings for WebTV Classic and WebTV Plus, so it will probably look familiar to you. Option 2 is not fully functional right now, so please don't use it. You won't need it in order for your unit to work at this point, so no worries. Finally, option 3 will only be applicable to those programs that are broadcast with more than one language soundtrack, so if you choose Korean, for example, it won't mean that every program you see will have a Korean audio track. Please give this feature a try, though, and let us know if you do come across programs that are broadcast with a foreign language soundtrack.
On the bottom of the TV Home page, you'll see a small bar called Notices. If there's a red light in this bar, it means that a notice is waiting for you. Not ices are EchoStar's version of email messages; they let you know about upcoming special events, offers, or changes that may affect you. Please note that when we here at WebTV need to communicate with you, we'll do it with an email message, not with a notice. TV Planner, TV Sites
Those of you who currently use WebTV Plus will recognize the other buttons on the bottom of the TV Home page, as they're the same ones on your Plus TV Home page. Classic users or others who aren't familiar with these features may want to check out How To on the TV Home sidebar for an overview of what they do and instructions on how to use them.
We've also included three games with this new box--Doom, You Don't Know Jack, and Solitaire. You can access Games from the link on the bottom of the TV Home page. Happy Testing!