Microsoft Family Safety

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Microsoft Family Safety
Microsoft Family Safety logo.png
Microsoft Family Safety screenshot.png
Family Safety homepage
Developer(s) Microsoft
Stable release Wave 5 (v16.4.3503.728) / August 7, 2012 (2012-08-07)
Operating system Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone
Type Parental controls
License Proprietary (Windows 8 and later)
Freeware (Windows Essentials)
Windows Live Family Safety Filter

Microsoft Family Safety (formerly Windows Live Family Safety and Windows Live OneCare Family Safety), developed by Microsoft, is free parental monitoring and content-control software. It was RTM on Windows 8 (bundled with the operating system) and is downloadable via Windows Essentials to older versions of Windows.[1]


  • Web Filtering – Family Safety has a Windows Filtering Platform driver to filter web browsing. This previously worked on all browsers but was limited to only Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Internet Explorer in Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile,[2]. The service filters in 18 different languages, and contains the following levels:
    • Allow List Only – Only allows websites that a parent has added to the Allow list. This feature is not included with the Windows 10 version of Family Safety.
    • Child-Friendly Sites – Above plus allows a list of websites designed for children has a listing of the more popular kid sites and allows the user to search the entire list of kid sites.
    • General Interest – Blocks social networking, web mail, web chat, and adult sites.
    • Online Communications – Blocks sites like Facebook and other potentially unsuitable social networks
    • Warn on adult content – Allows all websites but warns when the site contains suspected adult material. This setting was designed for older children who are trusted to make good decisions when the web filter incorrectly categorizes a site.
  • Activity Reporting – Parents can obtain a list of the websites visited. In addition, computer usages time, programs run, files downloaded, and games run will be reported via Windows Parental Controls.[3]
  • Enforce the adult filter of Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and other popular search engines. For Google, this means locking Safesearch.[4]
  • Control of Family Safety settings to set time limits, and game restrictions ala ESRB as well as general application restrictions.
  • Family Safety allows remote access to its features via the web interface. Windows Live Family Safety 2011 added support for using the web filtering/blocking controls without the child having a Windows Live ID.
  • Contact Management – Parents are able to create "allow" lists for Windows Live Contacts services such as Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail to help prevent their children from communicating with unknown contacts and instead only communicate with contacts that parents have approved. Alternatively, parents can just monitor who the child has on their allow list. This was added for Windows Live Messenger 8.5.
  • Family Safety blocks InPrivate browsing in Internet Explorer 8 and 9.
  • Image Filtering – Family Safety has a filter which looks for adult content in images. The filter is only run on websites which do not do an adequate job of filtering the images and only on computers with sufficient performance capabilities. When an image is blocked, Family Safety blurs it out.[5][6][7][8]


A preview of Windows Live OneCare Family Safety was first offered to 3000 beta testers in March 2006. After over a year and a half of testing, the final version was released on November 6, 2007. On 15 December 2008, Microsoft released an updated version 2009 of the software, and rebranded it as Windows Live Family Safety, removing it from the discontinued Windows Live OneCare family of products.[9][10] Web Filtering and Activity Reporting were previously features in Windows Vista Parental Controls. They were removed from the Windows 7 release when they were moved to Windows Live. On September 30, 2010, Windows Live Family Safety 2011 (Wave 4) was released as part of Windows Live Essentials 2011.[11]

On May 14, 2012, Microsoft announced that Windows Live Family Safety will be renamed to Microsoft Family Safety and will be built-in as part of its Windows 8 operating system.[12][13]

On December 16, 2015 Microsoft added new features in relation to the Family Safety integration in Windows 10 such as screen time extensions, the ability to exclusively set automatic limitations on Microsoft accounts belonging to children younger than 8, merged Microsoft Family Safety settings for both Windows Phones and Windows PCs, and made it possible for parent accounts to block the downloading and using of browsers other than Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Further for Windows 10 Mobile Microsoft added a unified information centre for recent activity, browsing history, app and game purchasing and downloading history and made it possible for a parent account to locate their child's device through My Windows Phone.[14]

System requirements[edit]

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 with the Platform Update for Windows Vista, Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit editions), Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 and the Platform Update for Windows Server 2008. It works on Internet Explorer 6 or later, Chrome 2 or later, Firefox 2.0 or later, Opera 10 or later, and Safari 3.0 or later.

An older version of Family Safety is available for Windows XP.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hoffman, Chris (4 February 2013). "Windows Live Essentials For Windows 8 – What You Need To Know.". Make Use Of. 
  2. ^ Drummer, Christopher (16 December 2015). "Microsoft adds new features to Family Safety, drops 3rd party browser support. Do you know where your kids are...on their Windows devices?". WinBeta. 
  3. ^ Muntenescu, Florina (3 January 2010). "Enhance Parental Controls with Windows Live Family Safety.". Digital Life. 
  4. ^ Blecherman, Beth (10 August 2012). "TechMama: Take Charge of Windows 8's New Parental Controls.". LAPTOP Magazine (Tom's Guide). 
  5. ^ Rubenking, Neil J. (7 December 2010). "Windows Live Family Safety 2011.". PC Magazine. 
  6. ^ Skinner, Carrie-Ann (21 March 2011). "How to use Windows Live Family Safety. We demonstrate parental controls with Windows Live Family Safety, free software that helps keep your children safe from the dangers of the web.". PC Advisor. 
  7. ^ Blog, Windows (16 July 2010). "Windows Team Blog: What’s new with Family Safety?.". Microsoft. 
  8. ^ Blog, Windows Experiences (20 August 2009). "Windows Experience Blog: Updated Version of Windows Live Family Safety Released.". Microsoft. 
  9. ^ Mondok, Matt (31 August 2006). "Adults only: Windows Live OneCare Family Safety beta released. Microsoft has released a beta of its parental control application known as …". Ars Technica. 
  10. ^ Wenzel, Elsa (12 November 2007). "Microsoft unwraps Windows Live desktop suite. Windows Live downloads now provide windows to Web services for e-mail, chatting, blogging, and photos.". CNet. 
  11. ^ Arar, Yardena (5 February 2009). "Microsoft Plans a Stripped-Down Windows 7.". PC World. 
  12. ^ Building Windows 8: Keeping your family safer with Windows 8
  13. ^ Pogue, David (24 October 2012). "Windows, Revamped and Split in 2.". New York Times. 
  14. ^ Viswav, Pradeep (16 December 2015). "Microsoft makes several changes to family safety features in Windows.". Microsoft-News. 
  15. ^ Oiaga, Marius (29 March 2010). "Windows Live Essentials 2010/Wave 4 Only for Windows 7 and Vista SP2.". Softpedia. 

External links[edit]