Microsoft to introduce Windows Live Family Safety Settings

Microsoft will be rolling out a new web-based service designed to help parents protect their children from unwanted online content. The new service is called "Windows Live Family Safety Settings" and comes with features that will also be included in the upcoming Windows Vista operating system. Parents will be able to control what websites their children are allow to view and also who they can talk to. Individual settings can be applied for each member of the household.

Among the functions is a tool to limit Internet access to certain websites. These can be either specific sites or sites within a category like shopping, or entertainment. If a child attempts to access a site not in this list, access can be blocked or merely recorded. In addition to controlling and tracking websites, Windows Live Family Safety Settings can also determine the audience children are able to talk to.

Microsoft said it will offer Windows Live Family Safety Settings free of charge and roll out the service over the next several months. Similar parental controls will be built into Windows Vista. In addition to tracking websites, Vista can track games that have been played and the applications that were used.