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Microsoft readies Windows Live parental controls

Software for Windows XP will let parents control access to the Web for their kids and monitor their online activity.

Microsoft is inviting testers to try an early version of new parental control software for Windows XP called Windows Live Family Safety Settings.

The parental controls software lets people filter online content, Microsoft said in an e-mail invitation to testers sent Wednesday. It is designed to help keep Web content that parents deem inappropriate from reaching their children--such as items on alcohol, pornography, gambling and tobacco, the company said.

Windows Live Family Safety Settings lets customers create individual accounts for children and see activity reports on the Web sites they visited. The service can be disabled when the parents themselves go online, Microsoft said.

In addition to the Live family 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.

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

A Microsoft representative on Thursday could not say when the Windows Live Family Filter will be available in the final version.