In a follow on to our article on the Zune Desktop Software [where we were incorrectly charged $50] we decided to follow Microsoft?s recommendations for setting up parental controls on our Zune Desktop Software and see how that works.
In a word; badly. This solution from Microsoft is laughable at best. After creating a new Live ID I applied it as a child account to my parent account. From there I was able to setup "Family Settings" There are some good ones here, I can block them from sharing music, the social, making purchases, explicit content and much more. This is great on the surface except for one thing? you can only access these controls from the actual child account!
I am not sure how Microsoft came up with this idea here, but you can only alter or change the parental controls from the child?s account making this clunky at best and just plain foolish by all other accounts. But wait there is more; the child account has the option to delete all Zune Pass music. If your child uses their own internet connected system [not real a good idea either] then this is no problem, if they use a family system, well then they could accidentally remove all of the music downloaded over Zune Pass, something that could be annoying at best.
Parental controls should be handled by the parent account and the ability to delete or remove content should be controllable. Yes you do have to log in with your parent account to access the settings but they should be visible and usable from the parents account and not visible at all in the account you are controlling. Sorry Microsoft but this is backwards here. Next up is a small problem that I noticed right away and what I feel is the real reason that Microsoft is requiring the separate Live IDs for any type of parental control. You have to have a separate Zune Pass for each Live ID.
Yup, three is no way to share a Zune Pass. This means I have to pay $15 for the parental account and $15 extra for the child account. This is simply ridiculous, especially given that this has been a complaint for over a year from Zune Owners. You would again think they would want to simplify this and make is more cost effective for new adopters and people they want to pull from other companies.
So we see that the "simple" solution that Microsoft has for Parental controls is not all that simple or easy to use/maintain; but worse than that it will cost you an extra $15 per month if you want to use a Zune Pass for each account. If you do not want to do that, then Zune Desktop leaves you exposed with no parental controls over your purchases putting you at risk to the ?no refund? policy that Microsoft has.
So Microsoft has a simply awesome player in the new Zune HD, but seems determined not to have software that supports the market it is aimed at. They also do not seem willing [as of this writing] to even admit this is a problem, which makes the likelihood of a solution very slim.
Note** – In the battle over the $50 charge my bank has provisionally credited my account the money back and say that it should be refunded as this is a common issue with Microsoft and their billing system. BSN’s Editor-in-Chief confirmed the issue by Chase bank as well.