Use Your Face to Unlock Windows 10


Microsoft today dropped the latest breadcrumb leading to the upcoming release of Windows 10: Biometric authentication.

Dubbed Windows Hello, the security feature will provide instant access to upgraded devices via your face, iris, or fingerprint. So forget forgetting passwords—your unique features will soon be the key to unlocking apps, data, websites, and other functions, Microsoft said.

With system support for biometric authentication, Windows Hello uses a combination of special hardware and software to accurately verify that you are in fact you, and not a photo or someone trying to impersonate you.

“And not only is Windows Hello more convenient than typing a password,” Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore wrote in a blog post. “It’s more secure!”

The system, he explained, enables users to authenticate applications, enterprise content, and some online experiences without storing a code on a device connected to a network server.

“Windows Hello offers enterprise-grade security that will meet the requirements of organizations with some of the strictest requirements and regulations,” Belfiore said. “It’s a solution that government, defense, financial, healthcare, and other related organizations will use to enhance their overall security, with a simple experience designed to delight.”

The movement to eliminate, or at least streamline password usage is accelerating. Also this week, Yahoo introduced a new on-demand password option that allows users to log into their account without needing to remember a long sequence of letters and numbers.

Redmond is taking a similar, if not more drastic, approach. The new “Passport” programming system actually eliminates the need for passwords to be stored on servers like bait for hackers.

Windows 10, expected to be released later this year, will ask users to verify that they are in possession of their device, before authentication can occur via a PIN or Windows Hello. Once through “Passport” control, users will be able to gain instant access to favorite websites, email, social networks, financial data, and more.

Microsoft first discussed these features in January, revealing that its next-gen OS will have two-factor authentication requiring a PIN or biometrics, as well as built-in identity protection and access control to withstand phishing attacks, and a data-loss prevention tool to automatically encrypt corporate data.

“We understand how critical it is to protect your biometric data from theft, and for this reason your ‘biometric signature’ is secured locally on the device and shared with no one but you,” Belfiore said.

There was no word on which devices will be Windows Hello-friendly, but it seems that folks already carrying a handset with a fingerprint reader will be able to use the new feature upon launch.

Microsoft did, however, announce that all OEM systems incorporating the Intel RealSense 3D camera (F200) will support the facial and iris unlock functions of Windows Hello, including automatic sign-in to Windows and support to unlock “Passport” without a PIN.

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