Microsoft is backing biometric authentication in a big way today with the unveiling of a new feature named Windows Hello. Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 operating system will support Windows Hello, allowing you to sign into a machine with just your face or finger. Windows Hello works by scanning your face, iris, or fingerprint to unlock devices, replacing a PIN or password to gain access to your own machine.
Intel's RealSense camera required for face sign-in
While most current machines won’t be able to use Windows Hello face recognition, Microsoft will support existing fingerprint readers. For the face or iris detection, new Windows 10 PCs will ship later this year with Intel’s RealSense 3D camera to enable the new support thanks to the infrared camera that will help scan your face.
Microsoft says privacy and security around the new Windows Hello feature are "enterprise-grade," and it will meet requirements of organizations that adhere to strict regulations. "It’s a solution that government, defense, financial, health care, and other related organizations will use to enhance their overall security," explains Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore. To achieve this, Microsoft never transmits images of your fingerprint or iris over the web, instead using asymmetric encryption keys to authenticate users remotely. Microsoft has also built in ways to avoid hackers from using pictures to defeat the facial security.
Alongside Windows Hello, Microsoft is also revealing Passport, a new system that apps and websites can use to securely sign in without a password. While Microsoft Passport existed in the past for the company's online accounts, Windows 10 will use a new Passport system to authenticate to participating websites and apps without sending a password, all while ensuring the process is secure using a PIN or Windows Hello with compatible devices. Microsoft is a member of the FIDO alliance, and has pledged to make future products compatible with the FIDO specification. So expect to see this feature available on a number of financial and consumer apps and websites over time.
Windows Hello will come to compatible phones, tablets, and PCs later this year once Windows 10 becomes generally available.