Few people are aware of the excellent parental control capabilities in Windows, which started in Vista and got a lot better in Windows 7. With Windows 8, Microsoft is raising the bar yet again, and as this week’s Building Windows 8 Blog post notes, they’re adding some new features too.

Phil Sohn, the senior program manager lead for Family Safety

New parental controls features in Windows 8 include:

Super-easy set up. When you add a new user to Windows 8—and this works with both local accounts and Microsoft accounts—there is a new checkbox titled “Is this a child’s account? Turn on Family Safety to get reports of their PC use.” All you need to do is check that to enable parental controls.

add-a-user

Oddly, while you enable Family Safety through this Metro UI, management occurs, as before, through a classic control panel.

fam-safety

Time allowance. Whereas previous versions of the Windows parental controls allowed you to specify the hours of each day that the child could use the PC—this feature is now called “curfew”—Windows 8 adds the ability to limit how many hours they can use the PC each day as well. So you may let them use the PC at any time on a weekend … but only for up to 4 hours each day. (Or whatever.)

timeallowance

Windows Store. As expected, Family Safety integrates with Windows Store so you can see which apps and games your child downloads and restrict what they see and download based on country-specific ratings. This is a huge new benefit, really. (You could restrict by ratings previously, but now that it's integrated with Windows Store, it really makes sense.)

ratings

As before, Family Safety provides nice weekly activity reports, lets you configure SafeSearch to strict for major search engines, and allow/block specific applications and games. (Many Family Safety features simply work as they did before in Windows 7.)