Microsoft’s incoming Windows 11 update will introduce public support for passkeys — a passwordless login technology that instead uses your face, fingerprint, or device PIN to sign into accounts. Announced at Microsoft’s AI and Surface launch event on Thursday, the latest Windows 11 update (available from September 26th) will allow users to create, manage, and store passkeys, and use them to access supported websites and services using their device’s own authentication systems.
Microsoft began testing passkey management in the Windows Insider developer channel back in June, so this Windows 11 update is bringing the technology into general availability.
Windows 11 passkeys are created through Windows Hello. Passkeys can be accessed on both a Windows desktop system and/or a mobile device used to authenticate the user’s identity. Following the Windows 11 update, IT teams will also be able to encourage employees to use more secure sign-in methods by removing the option to use passwords for all Windows 11 devices with Windows Hello for Business.
“For the past several years, we’ve been committed to working with our industry partners and the FIDO Alliance to further the passwordless future with passkeys,” said Microsoft in a blog post published on Thursday. “Passkeys are the cross-platform, cross-ecosystem future of accessing websites and applications.”
Microsoft provided Github and Docusign as examples of where they can be used, as passkeys can only replace passwords on websites, apps, and services that already support the WebAuthn public key authentication standard. Password management service 1Password has created a comprehensive directory that tracks everything currently supporting passkey.
Passkeys are expected to eventually replace passwords entirely as a new standard for login technology, but it’s going to take a while for them to be widely supported. Microsoft is one of the technology’s earliest supporters, having announced its plans to adopt passkeys on World Password Day in 2022 alongside other tech giants like Apple and Google.