Windows Live parental controls due this summer

Software giant plans to release two versions of its new, no-cost parental control software for Windows XP.

Microsoft expects to release a first version of new, no cost parental control software for Windows XP by the end of June, the company said Monday.

As reported earlier, Windows Live Family Safety Settings software is designed to help keep Web content that parents deem inappropriate from reaching their children. A preview version of the tool is currently available to testers.

The first version of the new software will let people filter online content and get activity reports on Web sites that were visited by others, Microsoft representatives said.

An update, which Microsoft said will come out later this year, will add a feature called "contact management," which lets parents approve contacts on Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Messenger, an e-mail and instant messaging service, respectively. The feature also gives control over who can access their kids' blogs on Microsoft's Spaces service.

In addition to the Live safety filter, which works with Windows XP, Microsoft is building parental controls into Windows Vista, the next version of the operating system due by year's end.

"These products are designed to be complimentary," said Alan Packer, a product unit manager at Microsoft. "We developed them together."

The software will compete with other filtering products, including Safe Eyes from and CyberPatrol from SurfControl.

Just more than half of U.S. families with Net-surfing teens use filtering programs, with more than 12 million copies of such software in use, according to a study conducted last year by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Announced in November, Microsoft is using Windows Live branding for a number of online services. The company also is working on Office Live, a collection of Web hosting and business applications for small companies.

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