Biometrics coming to Windows 10

Microsoft unveiled new security features for Windows 10. One of the most intriguing is their biometric start-up page. When you log into Windows now  you can setup a password or (in the case of 8.1) a 4 digit pin number. The new OS will take advantage of biometrics and facial recognition to keep your computer secure. In keeping with Microsoft’s “let’s choose a dorky name” policy, it will be called “Windows Hello”. Ok, ok, It’s a lot better than “Charm Bar” so I’ll let them have that.

The new biometrics will work with either a finger swipe, facial recognition or iris to unlock your Win 10 device. The facial and iris recognition will use infrared to detect your features. That means a 2 dimensional photo won’t trigger off the device. Unless it’s you and/or your eye, Hello won’t unlock.  The benefits of recognition and iris technology is, it’s a lot harder to fake out. It’s pretty easy to look over someone’s shoulder and scoop a 4 digit pin number. It’s even easier to crack a password if you know anything about the user. I’m constantly surprised, and dismayed, by the number of folks who use 12345678 or Password123 and swear “no one else will ever figure that out”.

I tried to find out if a strong eyeglass prescription will screw with the iris biometrics, but couldn’t find anything solid. I suspect, it will be simpler to take off your glasses when setting it up.  Of course this means any device you use will have to have the necessary hardware installed to make it work. It won’t be backwards compatible, so if your existing laptop or smart phone doesn’t have fingerprint reader or biometric hardware already installed, you won’t be able to use Hello or Passport.

Hello will work with a new feature, code named Passport, which will allow you to access password protected websites. Once Passport is authenticated through Hello, you’ll be able to access password protected websites without in anything, They’ll be unlocked via facial/iris scan. This is welcome news for people with disabilities. I have a number of customers with arthritis in their hands and shoulders, which limits how much they do. Being able to bypass typing in passwords would be a huge welcome.