Microsoft Promises Children Trackers In Windows 8

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
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Microsoft details improved monitoring options and restrictions for parents

Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 will feature a number of parental controls aimed at managing and monitoring childrens’ computer use.

The computing giant has pledged that the parental controls will be simple to use and will be more effective than existing family safety products.

Simple solutions

Parents will be able to create ‘child’ accounts on Windows 8, which will prevent a child from accessing parent’s documents and emails.

Children’s accounts can be monitored and a weekly email summary of their use delivered to a parent’s inbox. Restrictions can then be added, with all settings stored in the cloud and applied to any Windows PC with ‘Family Safety’ active.

“With the simplicity of activity reports, we believe more parents will adopt Family Safety, resulting in a safer computing environment for children,” said Microsoft in a blog post.

Additional restrictions can be added simply by clicking a link in the email. Web filters ranging from an ‘allow list’ to only warning when adult content is detected can be applied, as can safe search settings, time limits and age restrictions on apps and games.

More effective

Microsoft touted the simplicity of these options, saying they will be more effective. It claimed the complexity of previous solutions meant parents were likely not to use them, and instead revert to a system of monitoring. Microsoft said this is more difficult as more PCs enter the home and computer use becomes more mobile.

“One of the intrinsic capabilities of Windows 8 is the ability to use multiple accounts on any PC. This makes it much easier for parents to use tools that can help protect their children from content on the Internet as they see fit,” explained Phil Sohn, Microsoft’s senior program manager for family safety. “Microsoft has been a leader in creating tools to help maintain a safe computing environment for all users as well as for parents in particular. With Windows 8 we have substantially improved the family safety features and services available.”

However many of these features may be redundant in the UK, if online porn is blocked by ISPs by default. Windows 8, which was opened for public testing in February, is expected to launch later this year and is aimed at both traditional PCs and tablets. It was revealed yesterday that customers who purchase a new PC after 2 June will be able to upgrade to the new version of the software for less than £10.

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