Microsoft Releases Family Safety Filter

Microsoft on Wednesday launched a beta of Windows Live OneCare Family Safety, an addition to its security suite aimed at protecting families online. The application includes content filtering technologies, as well as contact management, activity reports, and guidance on online safety issues.

"The Internet offers fantastic opportunities to explore and learn, and OneCare Family Safety aims to ensure that those opportunities aren't limited due to questionable content," the company said in a blog posting Wednesday. "Microsoft is focused on improving our new OneCare Family Safety service and we hope that you will try it out and offer your thoughts on its features and usability."

Microsoft first announced its plans to offer the service back in March. Safety settings within the software are based on information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and are tied to the age of the user. Over and above these guidelines, a parent would also be able to modify the settings further.

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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, which would then take effect for all computers running the software.

Activity reports list detailed information on what sites 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 blog or social networking page, and specify who may contact the child via Windows Live communications services like Messenger and Mail.

Microsoft said it also plans to make international versions of the software available to users in the coming months. Family Safety is the third free service to arrive as part of the Windows Live OneCare suite. Microsoft has already released the OneCare Safety Scanner, as well as OneCare protection integrated into the Windows Live Toolbar.

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