In March, Microsoft announced the launch of Windows Hello – a security feature which enables users to access their computers and devices running Windows 10 via the face recognition system, involving iris identification or fingerprint.
The software giant also raised the curtain on Microsoft Passport, a system that will help IT managers, developers and webmasters to log in to websites and apps. Passport is using Hello or a PIN for verifying users, who can then access sites and apps by deploying Passport without requiring a password. Better things here: Passport altogether eliminates the need for passwords to be stored online where they can be easily stolen.
Upgrades are a must
Microsoft believes that Hello and Passport are a one-two punch for password authentication, which is becoming insecure over the years. The company’s VP for Operating Systems Joe Belfiore said that passwords, despite being our best ways to protect personal info, are “becoming inconvenient and insecure.”
He said passwords are “easily hackable” and even when we come up with complex ones, it is not 100% effective, he explained. He also said that we are tempted to use the most memorable things as passwords and the hassle of using multiple passwords for different accounts and websites is a painful exercise.
However, Windows Hello comes with caveats. For instance, you must upgrade to Windows 10. More important, your hardware should be equipped with Intel Real Sense 3D cam for facial and iris recognition.
Microsoft is not yet pushing Hello as the ultimate security system. The company has made it optional for Windows 10 users. However, it is urging users to use it while emphasizing the technology being a secure one.
Better at security and easier to use
A biometric technology like Hello comes with security and usability advantages over the conventional passwords, says Brett McDowell, the executive director of FIDO Alliance. He said the security advantages come from asymmetric cryptography where the only secrets are stored on the user’s gadget and not in the cloud. “This system protects users from losing authentication credentials if a service or website they are using is ever breached,” he added.
Biometric authentication is gaining in popularity among mobile users, and fingerprint scanners are already built in some popular smartphone and tablet models. However, the biometric system is less popular among desktop users as scanners have to be purchased separately. And that’s exactly what Microsoft is trying to change. Its integration of Hello feature into Windows 10 is likely to boost popularity of biometric authentication on laptops and desktop machines.
We all heard promises…
Microsoft has a track record for touting features in most upcoming version of Windows that never really found their inclusion into the final product when the new version is released. However, this time it seems real that Windows 10 will have what Microsoft has been honking about, Jim McGregor from Tirias Research said. Unlike other times when they made tall claims, Microsoft is leaking things out in a phased manner, which could mean they are sure that all these solutions will be in Windows 10.
The biometric authentication system for Windows 10 may increase the OS’s popularity, but may not increase its sales. “It is not going to drive sales by itself,” said Greg Sterling, VP of strategy and insight at the Local Search Association. He is of the view that this feature will not make much difference to buyers who will decide on a Mac or a PC or a Chromebook.
The feature may increase the sales of the OS a little bit more, but it is unlikely to have a huge impact on buyers’ decision, he opined while agreeing that a lot more of biometric authentication systems would emerge in the future.