Windows Vista and Parental Controls in IE7

Hello World!  I’m Sharon Cohen, Program Manager for parental controls in IE7. If you haven’t heard about Windows Vista Parental Controls, be sure to read Brian’s blog post which gives a great overview of the feature. I’d like to fill you in on the great features IE7 adds to Windows Vista Parental Controls.

IE7 offers two features which will enhance the Windows Vista Parental Controls experience for both parents and children. As Brian described, when Parental Controls have been enabled on a child’s account, Windows will block web navigations to particular sites. When a top level navigation is blocked, preventing navigation to an entire site, the child will see an error page which provides a link to request permission from their parents to view the content. 

Blocked web page

However, if only part of a page is blocked, then IE will display as much content as possible along with an Information Bar which provides an option for requesting permission to view the blocked content. 

Partially Blocked Page

From both of these blocked content dialogs, children can access an interface which allows their parents to approve the blocked content without logging out of the child’s account. (Parents have to put in their password before they can get to this interface.)

Admin Approval

The other Parental Controls feature which IE7 provides is download blocking. When the child goes to download a file, instead of seeing the run/save/cancel download dialog, children see a message that due to Parental controls restrictions they can not download the item.  (Download blocking is a setting which parents can enable through the centralized parental controls setting panel which Brian described.)

Blocked Download

There is no over-the-shoulder override on blocked downloads as there is with blocked web content, however, parents can view a log of the failed download attempt in the child’s activity report.

With these two features, Windows Vista Parental Controls become fully integrated in IE7, creating a safe and enjoyable experience for both parents and children.

Happy Browsing,

 - Sharon

Update: Updating this as requested to make it clear that this is a Windows Vista-based feature.

Comments (43)

  1. Ron says:

    How easy is it to work around this? If a child isn’t using IE7 will their downloads and images still be blocked?

  2. ieblog says:


    Please read Brian’s post as well. This is a Vista feature as a whole, not just an IE feature.

    – Al Billings [MSFT]

  3. Brett says:

    Is there a way using parental control to limit download/access to some/all ActiveX controls in IE?

    Is there a way for parents to review websites that they have manually granted access to?

  4. game kid says:

    Title is misleading, and should be corrected to "Windows Vista Parental Controls and IE7".  For a while, I thought it’d be an actual _browser_ addition.

    At least (as a Vista feature) it can’t be overridden via Firefox usage.  Or malware.  I hope.

  5. wpcheah says:

    I like to use "Windows Live Family Safety Beta",I get the software from my friend,but

    not the tester at Microsoft Connect,

    Can you invite me for testing this software?

    from :wpcheah AT


  6. Jonathan Wilson says:

    I am gussing that browsers like Firefox and Opera will need to implement this themselves.

  7. ieblog says:


    Not if they are running on Windows Vista, for basic Parental Controls. For the IE-specific features, yes.


    I’ve updated the title to be clear that this is a Windows Vista feature.

    – Al Billings [MSFT]

  8. Rob Franco [MSFT] says:

    Brett, you asked about ActiveX installs. if the parent sets the Parental Controls option to "block downloads", then IE will block ActiveX installs.

  9. A/X says:

    So this reature just a black-list filter on top enhanced windows firewall.

  10. I wonder if it would be better, if the text of this message was configurable.

    How about:

    "Ask you mum or dad (And don’t ask your mum if your dad said no!)"

    instead of

    "Ask an administrator"? 😉

  11. PatriotB says:

    Re: ActiveX download/install:  If you’re a limited user on XP, you don’t have the ability to download or install ActiveX controls–it fails silently.  I’m assuming this will be the case as well in Vista.  (And, kids had better be using limited accounts.)

  12. Xepol says:

    I find myself oddly unable to post to this blog, and only this blog under IE7 and IE6.

  13. Xepol says:

    Is there any hope that IE7 running under XP can use a similar scheme to block changes to IE7 settings and downloads if the right setting is set?

    It would be easy.  If the current user isn’t part of the administrator’s group (or hey, you could create a group with download permissions), ask them for username/password and if the information correctly allows for impersonation, allow changes to the settings or download.

  14. Xepol says:

    I tell you, kids and computers  = instant viruses.  I am so sick of it that the machine they access no longer has internet access.  If IE 7 could back port at least blocking downloads and preventing settings from being changed, then IE7 under XP could come that must closer to a trustworthy surfing experience.

    I am sick and tired of cleaning viruses off just because my kid managed to download the latest hack to his game that is actually a time bomb waiting to download everything else off the internet and install it while I sleep.

  15. Xepol says:

    It really should not be that hard to impliment, and I’m a little suprised that download blocking without privledges hasn’t been considered an essential part of system security by any software vendor yet.  This would be a feature that Firefox doesn’t even have yet (but could use just as much as IE)

    Just because *I* know what I am doing with a computer doesn’t mean that every "guest" who touches the machine does too.

    PLEASE, PLEASE tell us this is a feature that you can make available soon for XP!  Make it part of your trustworthy computing initiative.

  16. Xepol says:

    that post was multi part because as a single post, I would get 404 under IE6 and a blank white screen under IE7.  SOrry.

  17. Matt says:

    Could probably write a Firefox extension that implements download blocking, and indeed parental controls – functioanlity-wise it wouldn’t be all that different from Adblock, but would need restricted access to the configuration of course.

    But I digress. What really made me post is that there’s some inconsistency in terminology in the examples. The first one says that you need to ask an administrator for access to the site. The download blocking one says you need to ask ‘the person who set up Parental Controls’.

    Can’t you use the same term in both?

    Also, the dialog with the blocked URLs in it looks pretty intimidating. How many parents are going to be able to figure out what to do with it?

  18. Lordmike says:

    I agree with Xepol completely.

    I too want this feature, but mostly on my gfs computer. She downloads tons of active-x/flash/java games. I don’t know how many times I have had to sweep it clean from different worms and trojans (I havent seen a real virus in 7-10 years, today all we get is malware.. well not all but atleast 95%, because its easier to write good malware then a good virus).

    And because of low security in IE6 or just windows low security I now need to reinstall mother in laws computer, because no exe files can be opened by a user except "system".

    So please create this feature for Windows XP!

    Yeah I know.. this is just small problems in the big picture. Annoying as hell though. And if anyone knows how I can reset just the exe part on mothers in law computer I’d be greatfull.

  19. Teen says:

    I have a little question. Will the release version of IE 7 require SP2 on Win Xp or not?

  20. Jason says:

    The IE7 public beta2 has only worked on Win XP SP2, so I’m sure it will require it.

  21. ieblog says:


    Yes, this requires XPSP2, which is free and which has security fixes that you probably REALLY want to have. I recommend anyone still running XPSP1 to install SP2. It has been out quite a while now and it is a major improvement.

    – Al Billings [MSFT]

  22. Xepol says:

    LordMike -> sounds like the permissions got whacked.  Under XpPro, I would normally just take ownership of the files from an administrator account and then reset file permissions.  Not sure how that translates to XPHome.

    Matt-> a firefox extension could easily be turned off.  If it isn’t built right in, it would be too easy to defeat.  Wait, since firefox can be co-installed with itself, anyone with an install image on a disk could just blow past it with a 2nd install even if it is built right in.  There are some areas that firefox’s flexible nature just can’t promote system security.  I imagine convincing the firefox team to use a central store for their settings would be considered anathema, and taking full advantage of the XP os for cryptostore and permissions would likely never pass code review as it would cause a platform fork in features.  I would be interested in seeing what you create tho.

  23. game kid says:

    Thanks very much for the title change.

  24. Xepol says:

    Teen -> Rule of thumb : always expect the newest stuff from MS to require the newest service pack.

  25. Tim says:

    Horrible, horrible feature. I don’t blame Microsoft though, this is probably only being implemented because there is user demand for it.

    But seriously, blocking sites? That’s just "not done". Let your kid use a limited user account, so that the computer stays secure. Much better idea, imho.

    Also, I’ve been laughing at some remarks to this feature I’ve heard. One of them was that Linux LiveCD popularity should be rising after Windows Vista shipped! Well, it DOES make sense, but it’s still a funny remark 😉

  26. SympleByte says:

    I know that Internet Explorer 7 beta 2 has been out for awhile, but I just got around to installing it and I thought I would take her for a little test drive.  I’ll include the relevant links at the bottom of the post, but before you rush out and install

  27. belinda says:

    How do I get windows vista, I need to get parental controls, or can you guide me to a software that blocks out porn.

  28. Dan C. says:

    I’m curious what IE considers a "download". Every link you click on technically is a "download". Is there a list of file types that are considered downloads or is everything other than .htm/.html lumped in that category.

  29. n28338 says:

    Windows Vista and Parental Controls in IE7

  30. Dark Knight says:

    Saw this post on IEBlogs yesterday, to some people it may look like a late arrival of a long awaited…

  31. @belinda – Vista is not out yet, and Microsoft haven’t said when they’ll release it yet, sometime near the end of the year I think.

    Trend Micro PC Cillin Internet Security is a brilliant package, including virus scanner, firewall, internet filter and tonnes more. I’ve been using it for over 18 months and find it very good (and no, I dont get commission… shame ;))

  32. That’s a good point about bootable Linux CDs…. what can a parent do to stop their children getting hold of one, then booting the computer to use that, then they can do whatever they like, look at as much p0rn as they like and do anything…. all without leaving a trace afterwards!

    Will Vista have some sort of feature that modifies things at the motherboard level to prohibit booting from such CDs/DVDs? I doubt it…

  33. Lomedhi says:

    Paul, your computer’s BIOS (part of the basic hardware on the motherboard) already has the ability to disable boot devices, and can be protected with a password.

  34. IEBlog says:

    As you may have seen on the Windows Vista blog , we released Windows Vista to manufacturing today! Wahoo!!!

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