Chapter 13 - WebTV for Windows 98

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This chapter provides a brief overview of Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98 and how new broadcast technologies provide innovative methods for disseminating information.

See Also

  • For more information about Microsoft WebTV for Windows visit the World Wide Web at . 

Overview of MS WebTV for Windows

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Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98, included in Windows 98, integrates the interactivity of the Web with the medium of television, providing interative television on a computer. With Windows 98 and a TV tuner adapter card supported by Windows 98 installed on your computer, you can:

  • Find your favorite television programs with an electronic program guide that is always up-to-date. 

  • Watch television programs on your monitor, even while you are using other software applications. 

  • View interactive television programs that enhance television shows with additional, more interactive information about the show. 

  • Receive information such as Web pages, multimedia files, and software upgrades over the broadcast airwaves, so you do not have to tie up a phone line. 

Many kinds of applications can be run on Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98, from traditional Windows-based applications to standard broadcast TV programs. In between is a new application space: interactive television, is the melding of interactive content with an audio/video source.

For example, an interactive baseball game or cricket match might provide a score card, player stats, and a continuous ticker of scores from around the league, in addition to the television signal.

Currently, WebTV for Windows 98 supports both cable and over-the-air broadcast transmissions for National Television System Committee (NTSC) programming. Satellite and other broadcast transmission standards will be supported in the future.

In designing interactive content, internal Microsoft producers have been using a set of standards based on open, standard Internet technologies.

Interactive Television

The concept of interactive television is at the heart of WebTV. Interactive television combines television with interactive content and enhancements to provide better, richer entertainment and information, blending traditional TV-watching with the interactivity of a personal computer. Programming can include such items as: additional background text, richer pictures and graphics, one-click access to Web sites, electronic mail and chats, and online commerce with the use of a phone line back channel.

The process for creating interactive television is fairly simple. First, enhancement producers collect interactive elements on the set of a TV show. Then a Web developer assembles the elements using industry-standard languages and tools. Finally, the elements are transmitted within the live broadcast to the viewer's Windows 98 supported TV tuner. The signal is sent over narrow bandwidths in the vertical blanking interval (VBI) of a television signal.

Interactive Programming

There are three basic levels of interactive programming:

  • TV Crossover Links 

  • Low Bandwidth (Analog) Interactivity

  • High Bandwidth (Digital) Interactivity

Each of these options offers varying degrees of interactivity. Each of these types of interactivity is viewable by both Windows 98 and the WebTV Plus set top box. In other words, a broadcaster can send one signal and have it received, decoded, and rendered by both clients.

TV Crossover Links are very easy, yet a very powerful way to marry television programs to their associated Web sites. TV Crossover Links enable producers to integrate a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), or what is considered the common Web page address, directly into an actual TV program through closed captioning. A "trigger" in the form of a graphic "i" appears as a small "watermark" overlaying the program. Viewers can click on the "i" with their mouse or remote control to visit the associated Web site. By sending a trigger over the closed-caption signal, shows can add static or dynamic Web links to their programming.

Since the closed captioning space is available throughout the duration of the program, multiple TV Crossover Links can be sent during a broadcast. Most programs currently include closed captioning information, so the tools needed to add TV Crossover Links to a program already exist.

Low Bandwidth (Analog) Interactivity

The second level of interactive programming is the ability to integrate Web-based information and video programming using current analog transports. By using the bandwidth available in the vertical blanking interval (VBI) of a television broadcast, show producers can synchronize useful and timely information with an existing television program. An integrated page is created combining the television's video signal with content that enhances the viewer's TV experience. This second level of programming allows for a more user-driven experience than TV Crossover Links by delivering interactivity to each viewer.

Using well defined and understood Internet Protocols (IPs), broadcasters can send additional information alongside their signal. Although this is available today, there is limited bandwidth in the VBI for sending data (essentially what amounts to the bandwidth of an Integrated Services Digital Network [ISDN] line), so only limited interactivity and information access is currently attainable. However, when combined with a back channel, the option to add e-mail and chat rooms expands the possibilities of this current technology.

High Bandwidth (Digital) Interactivity

The third level of interactive programming consists of delivering integrated video and multimedia programs through fully digital transports such as digital terrestrial high-definition television or digital satellite. When this level of programming is realized show producers will have greater bandwidth for delivering program enhancements, finer control over the synchronization of information and video, and more flexibility in the layout and integration of pages.

Technologies Involved

The following is a list of the technologies that Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98 uses:

  • NDIS 5.0 Miniport Drivers 

  • Microsoft Win32 

  • Component Object Model (COM) 

  • Microsoft ActiveX / Java Components 

  • Winsock 2 

  • Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) 

  • Internet Explorer 4 

  • Microsoft Active Desktop 


  • Microsoft active scripting (Microsoft Visual Basic® Scripting Edition [aka VBScript], Microsoft JScript™) 

  • Microsoft DirectShow 

  • Microsoft DirectX 5.0/DirectDraw 

  • Microsoft Visual Basic 

  • Database/Jet/DAO/Loaders 

Installing MS WebTV for Windows 98

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Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98 components are optionally installed during the Setup of Windows components, or by using the following procedure.

To install PrintServer Software for Windows 98

  1. In Control Panel, double-click Add/Remove Programs. 

  2. On the Windows Setup tab, click WebTV for Windows

Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98 requires 31 MB of available hard-disk space, and there will be an optional component called "WaveTop" under WebTV for Windows 98. WaveTop is a free service to consumers, operated by WavePhore, Inc., which transmits high-value Web page content over the Public Broadcasting System's (PBS's) VBI signal. Examples of this content includes The Wall Street Journal, Time, Fortune, USA Today, and so. Since the PBS signal reaches 99 percent of all U.S. households over the air or via cable, this means that almost anyone in the United States will have access to this content 24 hours a day, 7 days a week starting at the launch of Windows 98. Installation requires Windows 98 to reboot at least twice, depending on hardware configuration, for complete hardware installation.

The program is run from the QuickLaunch toolbar or by using the following procedure.

To run WebTV

  • Click Start, point to Programs, Accessories, and Entertainment, and then click WebTV

MS WebTV for Windows 98 Hardware Requirements

The minimum hardware to use Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98 is as follows:

  • Intel Pentium 166 MHz processor or compatible

  • 16 MB of memory (RAM)

  • Super VGA monitor supporting 800 x 600 or higher resolution 

  • Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device with two buttons 

  • Television tuner card with Windows 98 – compatible drivers 

The recommended hardware to use Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98 is as follows:

  • Intel Pentium 200 MHz processor

  • 32 MB or more memory (RAM)

  • 28,800 bps or higher internal fax modem (AT command set compatible) 

  • Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device with two buttons 

  • Super VGA monitor supporting 800 x 600 or higher resolution 

  • ATI All-inWonder Card or ATI All-in-Wonder Pro Card or any television tuner card with Windows 98 – compatible drivers 

  • Cable connection to the card 

  • Sound card 

To display video in WebTV for Windows 98, the requirement is an ATI All-in-Wonder Card or ATI All-in-Wonder Pro Card. However, third-party drivers will be available soon after the release of Windows 98.

Troubleshooting the Program Guide

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There are steps you can take if you cannot connect to the Electronic Program Guide (EPG).

To connect to the Electronic Program Guide

  1. In the Internet Explorer 4 browsing software, click the View menu and select Internet Options. Click the Security tab. In the Zone list, click Trusted sites zone

  2. Click Add Sites. Type https://* in the Add this Web site to the zone text box. 

  3. Click Add to add it to the Web site. 

    Note Make sure there is no check mark in Require server verification (https: for all sites in this zone)

  4. Click OK

  5. Set the security level for this zone as Low

  6. Try to connect again. 

Program Guide Web Page

If the previously mentioned troubleshooting does not work, try the following steps.

Connect to for more information.

Troubleshooting MS WebTV for Windows 98

The following list should help you answer some of the more common questions from customers about Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98.

I cannot get your TV software to work with my video card. 

There are many TV tuner cards available in the market including STB TV PCI, IX-Micro Turbo TV, or the ATI All-in-Wonder VGA Card. At this time it is recommended that the ATI All-in-Wonder and ATI All-in-Wonder Pro Cards are used for WebTV.

The drivers in Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98 are written specifically for the chip sets in the two ATI cards. Customers using other cards should be able to use the software that ships with their TV tuner card. They will not, however, be able to use Microsoft WebTV for Windows 98.

I get a "WebTV for Windows could not find the necessary hardware" error. 

Often times this error means that the drivers between your sound card and the ATI card are not "binding" together.

Make sure your devices are listed in Device Manager. If they are not, run Add New Hardware from the Control Panel.

Nothing happens. 

"I have WebTV for Windows 98 installed with an ATI All-In-Wonder Pro video card. The ATI Movie Player will find the channels but WebTV for Windows 98 does nothing. I click on Start Scan and it just sits there. I clicked on Start Scan for every channel and after I got to channel 99 it gave me a broadcast error."

Or, "I downloaded the Program Guide from my cable TV provider and it says 'Loader running may take approximately 10 minutes.' I let that stand for about one hour and it did nothing."

Make sure the end-user did not install the release version of Windows 98 over a beta version. Make sure all the ATI drivers are present in the Sound Video and Game Controllers section of Device Manager. It should list the following:

  • ATI TuneP, WDM TVTuner

  • ATIXBar, ATI WDM Video Audio Crossbar

  • Bt829, WDM Video Capture

  • Closed Caption Decoder


If these devices are not listed, run Add New Hardware in Control Panel.