Windows Live Family Safety


Windows Live Family Safety

A part of Windows Essentials from Microsoft for free


Our rating: 


Pros & Cons:

Filtering works well; consolidates reporting across multiple PCs.
Controls depend on your Windows version (and its parental controls) and using Microsoft products.

Our Review:

After Norton Family and K9 Web Protection, my third option in parental filtering software is Windows Live Family Safety by Microsoft. This is a good program but its strength is its weakness: it is best as an extension of Windows parental controls and Windows Live. If you don't use either or are using Windows XP then I don't recommend Windows Live Family Safety because you can choose better products in Norton Family and and K9 Web Protection.

The later your version of Windows then the more parental controls you get. Live Family Safety works best with Windows 7 and well with Vista but is not very good with Windows XP as there are several features that don't work very well or at all.

Live Family Safety works better with Microsoft products like Internet Explorer - I had a couple of problems running it with Mozilla Firefox. Some components like contact management only work with Microsoft services.

I use Live Mail so I liked not having to remember another password. The interface was familiar to me yet it should be easy to use for most people. Each user profile is setup separately in a similar way to Windows parental controls, which it actually sits above. Be careful because some changes to the blocking setup did not take effect immediately.

The site blocking works very well in all versions of Windows and web surfing seemed more responsive than with K9 and Norton. But I wasn't able to choose from a list of categories to filter. Instead, Family Safety provides five levels of configuration related to the age of your children. Also, safe search is not as good because I could still view image files in the search engine image cache even though the sites were blocked. It can be uninstalled without a password.

Update: Windows Live Family Safety is now a part of Windows Essentials, which includes Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Mail, Writer, Family Safety, Microsoft OneDrive and Outlook Connector Pack. Upon running setup, you can choose just Family Safety to download and install.

Windows Live Family Safety was reviewed by on