Microsoft officials, from Chief Executive Satya Nadella on down, have repeated the mantra that Windows 10 will bring a “more personal” computing experience.
Users will be able sign in to the upcoming operating system with their face, eyes or fingerprint, the company says.
The new biometric scanning capability, dubbed Windows Hello, will work on any Windows 10 smartphone, tablet or personal computer that features the combination of hardware to support it. Existing devices with fingerprint scanners will be able to use the technology, Microsoft user interface executive Joe Belfiore said in a blog post.
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With Windows Hello, Microsoft is joining the roster of companies, including rival Apple, that are rolling out technology to make typed (and hack-able en masse) passwords redundant.
Nadella hinted at the biometric capability during Microsoft’s annual shareholders meeting in December, after a woman in the audience asked the assembled executives when the company would roll out tighter security that “that has fingerprint, eye, some kind of identity where we do not have to use 20 million passwords?”
Nadella said he was optimistic that image recognition would help fix the password theft problem. “That’s something that as we disclose and talk more about Windows 10 you will hear more about it,” he said then.
The Windows Hello announcement comes hours before Microsoft kicks off a long-dormant conference for hardware manufacturers. WinHEC (formerly the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference), gets under way this evening in Shenzhen, China, after a six-year hiatus. From 1992 to 2008, the event was held annually in a variety of U.S. cities.
The rekindled conference’s move to Shenzhen, a major technology manufacturing hub and financial center adjacent to Hong Kong, is likely designed to spur manufacturers to design better devices tailored for Windows. Microsoft is counting on Chinese manufacturers to roll out flashy hardware to highlight Windows 10 when the operating system is released later this year.