Designed for the Windows platforms, the application enables its owner to set limits on the time computer users spend on particular software programs. You can specify an individual time budget for each person who uses the computer and schedule time slots within which she can run programs. Based on these settings, PC TimeWatch locks and unlocks programs. Along with programs, PC TimeWatch gives you the ability to limit Windows logon hours and set the maximum duration of all Windows sessions for a day or a week. As distinct from other software, PC TimeWatch makes use of the Windows security features. Therefore unauthorized users have no chances to disable the program or tamper with its settings.
"The idea for PC TimeWatch was inspired by requests from parents who are concerned about the hours their children spend on electronic entertainment," says Patrick Philippot, manager at MainSoft. "According to psychologists if children have an unregulated access to the computer and games, they are exposed to the threat of becoming addicted. Game addiction is no better than addiction to alcohol or drugs. Serious game addiction negatively affects both physical and intellectual development of a child, causes depressions and psychological disorders. PC TimeWatch is a good preventive measure against all this. However its use is not restricted to kids. It can help companies prevent internet abuse. With PC TimeWatch in place, you can regulate the use of web browsers to stop employees from visiting non-work related websites."
"Regulating computer usage with PC TimeWatch is easy and doesn't require any advanced knowledge of the computer," continues Mr. Philippot. "Let's say, for example, your kid has become addicted to a space shooter and instead of doing homework and visiting friends he puts all his energy into blasting away at alien invaders. You want him to play only for one hour a day or seven hours a week. So, you select the game, add time slots, for example from 6 pm to 7 pm, and set the program to repeat this time limit all week. When the kid wants to play, he starts the computer. And so does PC TimeWatch that works transparently as a Windows service. If the boy is within his allotted time, the game is unlocked and he can play it. However when the time is up, PC TimeWatch locks the game and closes its window."
PC TimeWatch has been developed in collaboration with the team that created the classic PC Magazine Utilities and it is reflected in its carefully chosen feature set and refreshingly uncomplicated user interface. The main window allows you to select any user profile and view the list of restricted programs with permitted time slots. Time slots are indicated graphically and shown for the whole week from Sunday to Saturday. Also, the main window has the global allowance settings area where you can specify how long a selected program can be used by the current user during a day or week. On top of the main window is the toolbar that exposes all main commands and options so that you can access them with one mouse click.
PC TimeWatch other features include:
- Restricted programs are monitored through a specialized service and a driver
- Configuration program is password protected
- Warnings before a program shutdown are configurable
- "Prototype" feature allows to setup a scheduling model that can be then applied to a particular program
- Usage report.
Pricing and Availability
PC TimeWatch runs under Windows 98/NT/ME/2000/XP and costs 42 USD or 35 Euros. Registered customers are entitled to free updates and lifetime technical support. Discounts for volume buyers are available. A 21-day fully functional evaluation version of PC TimeWatch is available.