Microsoft Family Safety (formerly Windows Live Family Safety), developed by Microsoft, is free parental monitoring and content-control software. It was RTM on Windows 8 (bundled with the operating system) and is downloadable via Windows Essentials for Windows 7, Vista and XP.
- Web Filtering – Family Safety has a Windows Filtering Platform
driver to filter web browsing. This works on all browsers, filters in 18 different languages, and contains the following levels:
- Allow List Only – Only allows websites that a parent has added to
the Allow list. This feature is not included with the Windows 10 version of Family Safety.
- Child-Friendly Sites – Above plus allows a list of websites designed
for children has a listing of the more popular kid sites and allows the user to search the entire list of kid sites.
- General Interest – Blocks social networking, web mail, web chat, and adult sites.
- Online Communications – Blocks sites like Facebook and other potentially unsuitable social networks
- Warn on adult content – Allows all websites but warns when the site
contains suspected adult material. This setting was designed for older children who are trusted to make good decisions when the web filter incorrectly categorizes a site.
- Activity Reporting – Parents can obtain a list of the websites
visited. In addition, computer usages time, programs run, files downloaded, and games run will be reported via Windows Parental Controls.
- Enforce the adult filter of Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and other popular search engines. For Google, this means locking Safesearch.
- Control of Family Safety settings to set time limits, and game restrictions ala ESRB as well as general application restrictions.
- Family Safety allows remote access to its features via the web
interface. Windows Live Family Safety 2011 added support for using the web filtering/blocking controls without the child having a Windows Live ID.
- Contact Management – Parents are able to create "allow" lists for Windows Live Contacts services such as Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail
to help prevent their children from communicating with unknown contacts and instead only communicate with contacts that parents have approved. Alternatively, parents can just monitor who the child has on their allow list. This was added for Windows Live Messenger 8.5.
- Family Safety blocks InPrivate browsing in Internet Explorer 8 and 9.
- Image Filtering – Family Safety has a filter which looks for adult
content in images. The filter is only run on websites which do not do an adequate job of filtering the images and only on computers with sufficient performance capabilities. When an image is blocked, Family Safety blurs it out.
A preview of Windows Live OneCare Family Safety was first offered to 3000 beta testers in March 2006. After over a year and a half of testing, the final version was released on November 6, 2007. On 15 December 2008, Microsoft released an updated version 2009 of the software, and rebranded it as Windows Live Family Safety, removing it from the discontinued Windows Live OneCare family of products. Web Filtering and Activity Reporting were previously features in Windows Vista Parental Controls. They were removed from the Windows 7 release when they were moved to Windows Live. On September 30, 2010, Windows Live Family Safety 2011 (Wave 4) was released as part of Windows Live Essentials 2011. On May 14, 2012, Microsoft announced that Windows Live Family Safety will be renamed to Microsoft Family Safety and will be built-in as part of its Windows 8 operating system.
Windows Vista Service Pack 2 with the Platform Update for Windows Vista, Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit editions), Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 and the Platform Update for Windows Server 2008. It works on Internet Explorer 6 or later, Chrome 2 or later, Firefox 2.0 or later, Opera 10 or later, and Safari 3.0 or later.
An older version of Family Safety is available for Windows XP.