Windows Live Safety Settings Unveiled

Microsoft on Tuesday confirmed plans to offer a new service that gives parents more control over the Internet content their children can view without supervision. Called Windows Live Safety Settings, it includes content filtering for the Web, contact list management tools for communication services, and online activity reports.

The program is currently in a limited beta. A version of Live Safety Settings with filtering and reports will be released in summer, with contact management coming by the end of the year, Microsoft said. Both users of Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista would be able to run the application.

Safety settings within the software are based on information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which are tied to the age of the user. Over and above these guidelines, a parent would also be able to modify these standard settings further.

Microsoft said it was additionally in the process of identifying similar groups in other countries to expand where it offers Live Safety Settings.

"We've heard a universal concern about exposure to unwanted content regardless of age, and Windows Live Family Safety Settings will help here as well," MSN corporate vice president Blake Irving said. "We're providing tools to put people in control so they can explore the Web more safely."

Content filtering features allow users to either choose to "allow," "block" or "warn" for a range of categories, with settings customizable for each member of the household. A parent would be able to adjust these settings from any PC connected to Windows Live.

Activity reports list detailed information on what each family member is visiting, and are accessible from any Windows Live PC. Even further, contact list management would allow the parent to restrict access to a child's Web log or social networking page, and specify who may contact the child via Windows Live communications services like Messenger and Mail.

"The Internet should be considered an ocean with much to discover, and families should be comfortable allowing their children to explore it," AAP CEO Errol Alden, M.D. said. ""But at the same time, there need to be guidelines."

Those interested in signing up for the beta can do so by e-mailing [email protected].

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