Leopard Matches Vista's Parental Controls, Parents Win

Vista was ahead of Mac OS X Tiger in the control parents have over their kidsi computers. However, Leopard has caught up and matches Vista, according to C|Net on Tuesday. The winner is ... parents.

The settings in the OS, called parental controls, allow the parent, the administrator of the computer, to set policies, access times, site restrictions and view logs of the childis viewing habits. However, Tiger lagged behind Vista in the degree of control. That all changed when Leopard shipped on October 26th.

"The battle to one-up each other in parental controls is only going to benefit consumers," said Chris Swenson, director of software industry analysis at the research firm the NPD Group. "Thereis really no excuse now for parents not to lock down their PCs for their children."

NPD noted that the sales of parental control software was up more than 47 percent in the first nine months of 2007. Clearly, parents are paying attention to the on-line safety of their children. While Apple and Microsoft have not reported on the utilization of parental controls in Leopard and Vista, thatis likely to be a big selling point for the gift giving season. Some think the best way to achieve parental controls is at the OS level.

"Parental controls at the operating system level is really the best way on the family PC," said Anne Collier, co-director a community site for parents and kid safety. "There are more options for the parent and itis seamless, rather than having to install something that may or may not crash the system."

Stefanie Olsen looked at the features of the parental controls in Leopard and Vista and found them to be on par with each other. Each achieves the same with slightly different approaches. However, Vista does offer one edge. It can block PC games based on the game ratings system from the ESRB.

On the other hand, unlike Vista, parents with Leopard can control a childis computer from their own and view logs of activity. "We have a rich set of parental controls that are incredibly easy to use and that give parents the flexibility to decide how to use them and to create a certain experience for their child on the Mac," said Chris Bourdon, senior product line manager for Mac OS.

Whichever system parents chose, itis clear that parental controls are now firmly on the radar of Apple and Microsoft, and that has to give parents a good feeling for the holiday shopping season.

TMO notes that parental controls can only go so far. The intrinsic security of the OS, when the final Website is visited and files downloaded, is an equally important consideration. The consensus is that Leopard is well ahead of Vista on that count.