Microsoft: Win8 simplifies, improves parental monitoring of kids computer activities

The new OS makes it easier for parents to keep tabs on and control their children's PC and online usage, according to Microsoft

Microsoft has designed Windows 8 to make parental monitoring and control of children's computer activities simpler and more effective, the company said on Monday.

In Windows 8, parents can receive a weekly report of their children's online and PC activities by creating user accounts for each child and turning on the Family Safety feature.

"No additional downloads, installation wizards, or configuration steps are required," the company said in a blog post authored by

Phil Sohn, Microsoft's senior program manager lead for Family Safety.

The weekly report, delivered via email, includes information like websites visited, search queries, Windows Store downloads, most used applications and games and PC-use time length.

If, instead of being local Windows accounts specific to a particular PC, the parent and children accounts are based on a Windows Live ID, then the monitoring can extend to other machines the children log into.

With Windows Live ID-based accounts, parents can also apply usage control settings for their children accounts across multiple PCs. Settings established by parents are stored in Microsoft's cloud-based Family Safety service.

These settings can be changed by clicking on different sections in the weekly report or by going directly to the Family Safety control panel.

For example, parents can restrict the websites children visit and games they play, establish time limits for using PCs and specific applications, and prevent children from seeing certain Windows Store applications based on their age rating.

Windows 8 is currently in "Consumer Preview" beta. According to Sohn, people interested in these Family Safety features should watch out for the next Windows 8 release, termed "Release Preview," which Microsoft has said is expected at some point in June. Microsoft hasn't said exactly when it plans to ship Windows 8 in commercial final form.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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