Microsoft’s plan to open up “Windows Hello” to third-party developers could change the way we use passwords.
At launch, Windows Hello only allowed users to securely log into a Windows PC or phone using biometric authentication, such as a fingerprint scanner or iris sensor. At Microsoft’s Build 2016 conference, however, the company announced greater ambitions for the technology.
Windows Hello is set to soon be opened up to third-party app and website developers.
This creates a number of interesting possibilities for Windows 10 users. Rather than having to remember a litany of passwords (or, worse yet, reusing the same one in many places), an app or website could now prompt you to prove your identity biometrically.
When I imagine using Windows Hello to log into a banking app on my phone, or to a travel website on my laptop or tablet, the technology instantly seems more useful than it has been in the past. Why use a fingerprint scanner to unlock a device, only to subsequently face a gauntlet of passwords in apps and on websites? A better option is already there, literally right in front of the user.
The current list of supported options include face recognition (provided your device has a depth-sensing 3D camera), iris scanning, and fingerprint reading, but that list may grow as the variety of sensors we surround ourselves with us increases.
The initial implementation is geared towards Windows 10 phones and PCs, though Microsoft’s recent multiplatform efforts could indicate we’ll see the technology come to other devices in the near future.
Failing that, I’d be unsurprised if we saw imitators. The password was never a particularly elegant, or even secure, solution for proving one’s identity, so exploring and expanding biometric options will likely be welcomed by many users looking for greater convenience and security.