Microsoft wants passwordless access to become the new normal in 2021

Arif Bacchus

Windows Hello Surface

Alex Simons, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Identity Program Management, is calling to make passwordless access the new normal in 2021. The Microsoft exec pointed to some moments in 2020 where passwordless technology broke through and mentioned some next steps for it heading into the new year.

According to Simons, there were a couple of milestone moments for passwordless access this year. In February, Microsoft announced a preview of Azure Active Directory support for FIDO2 security keys in hybrid environments. Then, in September at Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft unveiled a new passwordless wizard available through the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. Finally, in November, Microsoft was recognized by Gartner as a “Leader” in identity and access management (IAM.) Some other points of note from 2020 include the following.

  • Passwordless usage in Azure Active Directory is up by more than 50 percent for Windows Hello for Business, passwordless phone sign-in with Microsoft Authenticator, and FIDO2 security keys.
  • More than 150 million total passwordless users across Azure Active Directory and Microsoft consumer accounts.
  • The number of consumers using Windows Hello to sign in to Windows 10 devices instead of a password grew to 84.7 percent from 69.4 percent in 2019.

Heading into 2021, Microsoft is working to improve on what was gained in 2020. Simons says Microsoft is working on new UX and APIs for managing FIDO2 security keys. Microsoft is also working on a converged registration portal in 2021, where all users can seamlessly manage passwordless credentials via the My Apps portal.