LiveSide has the skinny on the beta of a new Windows Live service called Windows Live Family Safety Settings:
Family Safety Settings is an easy-to-use parental control application that is designed to monitor, control and filter online activity. By creating specific accounts for your children, you can view activity reports showing what websites they have visited and adjust their content filters accordingly.
The technology behind this service is similar to the Windows Vista Family Safety feature…
Beta invitations were being sent out yesterday for this upcoming Windows Live service, which goes by the codename “Vegas” (think Sin City).
Hit the link for more including a screenshot, but despite the praiseworthy objective, a couple of observations immediately come to mind.
First, this is yet another odd candidate for the “Live” moniker. The way these personal filtering programs work is that they install on the user’s machine and get periodic updates of Web site ratings, much like an antivirus program. There’s no Web 2.0 or Web interface of any kind in the deal. Chalk it up as some more “Live” branding confusion.
The second observation lies in the above phrases “these personal filtering programs” and “like an antivirus program.” The personal filtering business already has numerous established players like CYBERsitter, Cyber Patrol, Net Nanny, and more which seem to provide equivalent functionality to the proposed Microsoft offerings. Some like CYBERsitter don’t charge for the periodic updates, others generally do, but it looks very similar to the Windows antivirus software market and it’s a popular category:
More than half of U.S. families with online 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. The report indicated that use of filters in U.S. homes grew 65 percent from four years earlier, as children logged on to the Web in ever greater numbers and the online porn industry continued to flourish.
There’s no word on how much Microsoft is going to charge (if anything) for Windows Live Family Safety Settings or Vista’s Windows Family Safety, but the 800 pound gorilla just showed up and it doesn’t look good for the little players, particularly with the Vista bundling. If the antitrust regulators are getting antsy over OneCare, they ought to get pretty excited over this one.