Microsoft says it plans to include free parental monitoring and controls in its forthcoming Windows Live suite of Web-based services, The service, dubbed Windows Live Family Safety Settings, will enable parents to create customized configurations for each member of their family. The service will be available for free, and rolled out in phases beginning in mid-2006.
Windows Live Family Safety settlings will provide content filtering for the Web, control over contact lists used for email and instant messaging, as well as detailed online activity reports. Different degrees of filtering will be available: for instance, the Family Safety Settings can be configured to warn a user that a site seems inappropriate for a particular user, but allow the user to see the site anyway if they wish, with the transaction being logged. That way, a site carrying, say, health information which is mistakenly flagged as inappropriate can still be accessed, and parents have a record of how their children are using the Internet.
Parents also will be able to allow, or whitelist, particular services, including Windows Live Mail, Windows Messenger, and Spaces. The safety settings are intended to compliment safety offerings set to ship later this year with Windows Vista.
Microsoft is developing the service in coordination with the American Academy of Pediatrics and other child-focused organizations around the world.