The Internet Security Suites Blog

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Microsoft Launches a Beta of Windows Live OneCare Family Safety

A Redmond-based giant on Wednesday launched a beta version of Windows Live OneCare Family Safety, an add-on 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."

Family Safety Settings is designed to include the following features:
  • Content filtering
    Web filtering will allow customers to choose settings to “allow,” “block” or “warn” for a range of content categories, and unique settings can be applied for each member of the household. The filtering settings will be enforced when a user logs on to Windows Live on a PC that is running Family Safety Settings. Parents will be able to review and adjust settings online anytime from any PC to help meet the family’s evolving needs.
  • Expert guidance
    AAP and other respected child organizations worldwide will provide parents with valuable guidance on age-appropriate settings and online activities. For example, users will have access to guidelines on how to help a child use online communications safely or how parents should talk to children about inappropriate Web browsing.
  • Activity reports
    Parents will be able to access activity reports for each user in the family, at any time from any PC connected to the Internet, to help them stay informed about how their children are browsing the Web or communicating online.
  • Contact management
    Parents will be able to create “allow” lists for communication services, including Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces, to help prevent their children from crossing paths with unknown contacts. The allow list will also help parents restrict access to a child’s personal Web log (blog) or social networking page to only those contacts they have approved. These communication services protections will apply any time a user is logged in through Windows Live.

“Online safety for children is a crucial issue facing families today. We’re designing Windows Live Family Safety Settings to help open the lines of communication between parents and children and in the process, give them a safer Internet experience,” said Blake Irving, corporate vice president of MSN. “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. We’re providing tools to put people in control so they can explore the Web more safely.”

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.

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