Microsoft makes changes to its Family Safety features to prepare for launch of Windows 10

We are now just one month away from the launch of Windows 10 on July 29, and Microsoft is getting ready in a number of ways. One of them are some changes to its Family Safety features, which are designed to help parents monitor their children's activities on their home PCs as well as online.

Parents who want to manage their kid's settings will now find they are available on the http://account.microsoft.com/family{.nofollow} website. That's because the company has made the site its one-stop shop for everything related to a customer's Microsoft Account, including how their set up their family settings. For the launch of Windows 10 itself, Microsoft says:

"On Windows 10, you'll need a Microsoft account in order to use Microsoft family whether you're a part of a family as an adult or a child. When kids are added to a Microsoft family with a Microsoft account, any time they sign in to a Windows 10 device, their settings will be applied and their activity will be reported to the adults in their family.

One thing that's been changed immediately is that account users will have to manage their family settings on each PC. Microsoft admits, "We know this may be painful for some of you, but we're doing this to make way for a simpler, better experience: roaming your child's settings with their Microsoft account." The advantage is that parents will be able to get recent activity information from each PC linked to their account. Microsoft says:

"On the redesigned recent activity page, you can see how your kids are spending their time on each PC, from the apps and games they're using to the websites they're visiting. And while you're looking at their recent activity, you can decide whether or not something is right for them, and block or allow it right there."

Microsoft has also redesigned some of the settings to make them easier to use:

  • For web filtering, we reduced the options down to a few crucial ways to keep your kids safe when they're online. We now automatically block adult content in their web browsers, and if your kids are very young, you can allow them to access only specific web sites that you want them to see.
  • For apps & games, we've simplified how restrictions are set. You can choose an age setting for them, and based on that, they'll be able to only download apps and games that have been rated appropriate for their age.
  • For screen timers, we've taken the complex graphs and settings and simplified them down, while giving you the flexibility to easily control when your kids can use the PC.

Source: Microsoft (opens in new tab); Via: Neowin

John Callaham
55 Comments
  • Nice feature..
  • Agree.
  • Unfortunately it's no longer a nice feature. MS started updating Family Safety a month or so ago. Most of the original features are no longer available. They have dumbed it down considerably at the expense of true control. Hopefully they will add some of the features back, but as I said, this happen over a month ago so I'm not holding my breathe. It would also be nice for them to add back the "block all app downloads" back...but I digress...
    It's also surprising Windows Central took this long to mention this. This is quite old news.
  • That why there's group policy local
  • Yes, I tipped them months ago and they ignored it.
  • Agree, this has taken this feature and made it NOT a feature. This sucks completely
  • They simplified this feature by severely reducing its functionality. The old Family Safety was 100-times better.
  • A mail regarding that came a week ago.
  • Can I get recent used apps in the list for windows mobile?
  • Nope.. But you can see recently installed apps though..
  • Definitely a missing feature! Along with Website activity from mobiles..
  • Is it me or does the option to "block all but allowed sites" seem to be broken or missing? There is an option to only show allowed sites but it doesn't save...always unchecked when I return to site.
  • Yeah, it hasn't worked for quite some time. Hopefully they fix it.
  • That awkward moment when you're 17 and your 20-year-old sister placed family restrictions on your account...
  • Nice features! As a parent I really appreciate this.
  • I really don't like the separation of devices. I have 5 kids, 2 Surface tablets and a PC and it has become a real pain to manage their accounts. It was much nicer to be able to change a setting once and have it apply to all devices.
  • Is this just temporary? Or am I reading it wrong
  • I certainly hope so. But the other concern I have is what will happen on Windows 8.1 devices. Forcing us to manage our kids per-device is a HUGE step backward -- to say nothing of the so-called "simplification".
  • I'm in pretty much the same boat with kids and devices but I can understand the change. Consider the situation where parents are divorced and the child spends time in two different homes.  Each parent can set their own controls for the computers in their own home.    
  • Yes. Big step back. No way to limit TOTAL use to say 2 hours web a day. Not really designed with a parent mindset in mind.
  • All 4 of our kids have windows phones and Windows 8.1 laptops. This along with OpenDNS are welcomed in a home with young children.
  • Anybody know if the settings can apply to a phone running Windows 10 and to Xbox One browser? (Off topic: Will xbox get edge to replace IE?) I don't have kids, but decent parental controls could be one thing that would attract a parent to Windows Phones. Especially being able to set that in one place, assuming this isn't widely available on other platforms.
  • Sorry this isnt ps3(never understood their MacAfee filter idea as their only concern is to promote m rated games)
  • This does work on windows phone. You actually have more control over apps on windows phone. It also works on Xbox for games idk about browser though but i would assume so.
  • I don't know if the X1 will respect these settings, but you can already control website blocking on a macro scale. What I don't know if you can selectively allow individual sites or whether kids can request access.
  • I'll have to check this out later as MS made changes a few weeks ago which locked my siblings out of the general browsing web category. Fail.
  • Where's parental control for Windows Phone?
  • Kids Corner
  • What about for adults who want Windows Phone, but also want internet accountability for themselves without crippling their phone?  
  • It includes controls for windows phone. Both my kids have WP devices; family safety allow PC and phone control.
  • For some reason almost all Youtube content greys blocked for me. Heck, Even a microsoft related blog got blocked. All this without about enabling any of the settings. Fail
  • YouTube should be blocked by default for kids...
  • Is anyone here familiar with the software product Covenant Eyes? How does Microsoft's offering compare to Covenant Eyes? We run Covenant Eyes on our PC, and I had to trade in my Windows Phone for an Android (not happily though) because I decided that I loved my wife more than porn and I wanted to rid myself of the temptation. With Covenant Eyes, my activity is tracked and reported to a trusted person, but I have free rain to do any kind of admin only type stuff (except for disable the app). Would I be able to do that with Microsoft's offering on my PC AND a Windows Phone?
  • Opendns
  • Doesn't look like Opendns would work with phone browsing done via 3G/4G or any wifi outside of the home.
  • If you were a kid to your wife perhaps it would work.
  • When I last looked into doing that, it would have crippled my account - no other admin privleges. Does anyone known if this would still be the case today?
  • Would be nice if it could manage the settings  on my old Xbox 360 as well.
  • We have a large family and really liked the prior system. Now I'm worried that we're losing fine grain control of settings through this simplified view. Still not clear on the mobile story for Windows 10. If there remains no "continuum" of safety from desktop to phone, I'll be forced to convert to a mobile platform that may not offer centralized control, but does protect my children.
  • I accidently reported you while voting up your comment. Sorry! I don't see an option to undo it...I am using Edge and it seems as though some icons aren't displaying.
  • The one change i have noticed is that it has just flat out stopped working for my two kids. Neither time limits nor activity reporting works. MS is infuriating. I don't know how much longer I can stick with them.
  • Would be neat if we could also use the Xbox One to control what they watch on tv. I mean the Xbox already tracks who is in the room and what channel is being watched, right?
  • Yeah but not for that kind of purpose. What your after sounds like a privacy nightmare
  • So they moved this to online management just like most routers now these days.
  • It's been online since Family Safety was offered as a separate add-on back in 2007. It's integrated with login and group policy and *made* it easier to allow your kids to use a PC on the internet without being exposed to sites they're not ready to browse or understand. So, much more capable than just router-based filtering.
  • Yea Microsoft (MSFT) sent emails out a few days ago.
  • Oh, you finally decide to report on this. I tipped you months ago. And you failed to mention how these changes have been received -- in a word, they're terrible. http://answers.microsoft.com/thread/9ce896b7-e181-45d5-bca1-03610f6cd920 How about paying attention to news tips next time?
  • Reduced... Simplified... Not good signs if it means that features are being removed. Internet whitelists, blacklists, allowed desktop and tablet apps, time controls: are these all still there or not?
  • I agree. They simplified it so much it's almost completely useless. I want the old functionality back.
  • Multiple devices can be good as an option, not forced. But most other features are dorked up now. I really liked the time blocks before.
  • I wish Cortana would work on a child account. I almost want to redo the account just because of that.
  • works great until the teen decides to start using an Ubuntu Live CD burned to a thumb drive instead 
  • I HATE these changes.  I used to be able to control what times of the day in 1/2 hour chunks the PC was permitted to be used.  I allowed my elementary school child to use the computer for a couple hours in the morning and then a few hours in the late afternoon.  They could have offered a more simple version of the time control as an OPTION without removing the fine grained version. Now you cannot do that.  In effect, they have RUINED the feature so parents can no longer precisely control when their child uses the PC each day. FAIL - Brought to you by same people who pushed the Office Toolbar, Metro UI and no Start Button in Win8.  These customer unfocused UI designers all need to be fired when they make the PC experience worse for actual users. When employees contribute NEGATIVE WORK to the product, they need to be launched.
  • Firefinger - I totally agree with you.  This new "family control" feature is completely useless.  Already shifted one computer back to Windows 8 which I also hate, but I need to try to keep my 11 year old from spending every one of his waking hours in front of this computer.  Thanks for another giant step backwards with your latest update Microsoft
  • Some libtard must have been the PM since you have to ask your children to agree to the controls and they can leave at any time.