Microsoft is taking biometrics seriously with Windows 10. The new operating system is coming, and with it comes a new set of features to keep devices secure — without using passwords.
The company has unveiled Windows Hello, a biometric authentication feature that uses facial and iris recognition and fingerprint scanning to unlock and operate devices running Windows 10. The system can also be used to authenticate applications, data, Web services and more.
In addition to being more convenient and secure than passwords — since users won't have to type in passwords or store them in devices or network servers — Windows Hello also aims to give Windows 10 users a more personal computing experience, Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. [Windows 10: New Features for Business]
This is because Windows Hello works by recognizing users' own "unique personal characteristics" and coupling that information with their personal devices. Whereas passwords can be easily stolen, hacked or forgotten, these unique biometrics and the devices they are paired with are the "keys" to a user's Windows experience and content, Microsoft says.
To ensure security, Windows Hello uses both software and hardware to identify individual users. For instance, it uses infrared cameras like the Intel RealSense 3D Camera to recognize real-life faces and irises, while differentiating them from photos or someone posing to be the user. The technology also works under different lighting conditions.
Windows 10's new security features can also be used for IT purposes. Instead of using several passwords or shared passwords, IT administrators can use the Passport program to authenticate users on applications, enterprise data, Web platforms, networks and other services.
Passport uses a single PIN or Windows Hello for a host of authentication purposes, such as logging in to devices, email clients, business networks, social networks, financial websites, e-commerce websites and other apps and services.
Windows Hello and Passport are both optional features. Customers who prefer to use passwords can still do so and bypass biometrics and PINs, while users who already have fingerprint-scanning-enabled devices will be able to use their existing devices for Windows Hello. Find out more at the Official Windows Blog.