Windows Hello in Windows 10 will require face, iris, or fingerprint hardware to work

Fahad Al-Riyami

Windows Hello will require face, iris, or fingerprint hardware to work

Microsoft has been beefing up Windows 10 with enterprise-grade security, making sure that both consumers and enterprises are always protected for threats. The software giant also introduced Windows Hello earlier this year in an effort to let users seamlessly, and securely log in to their PCs.

Today, following the Microsoft Build event, the company has unveiled a few more details about Windows Hello, as well as its Microsoft Passport features in Windows 10. Microsoft has confirmed that Windows Hello will support three types of biomentric entry; fingerprint, face, and iris. The three will be set as the recommended entry modes on devices with supporting hardware as Microsoft hopes to stop people from using 1234 as their passwords when a more reliable means on entry is available to them.

Windows Hello also falls under Microsoft’s Windows 10 security plans, ensuring the feature meets enterprise-grade security standards. Windows Hello has demonstrated a False Acceptance Rate (FAR) of 1/100,000. That’s the probability of the feature incorrectly authorizing an unauthorized person from logging in to your device. Likewise, Windows Hello has a False Rejection Rate (FRR) of 2-4%, and also has measures to ensure that the subject is indeed human, and not a photograph.

Windows Hello will require face, iris, or fingerprint hardware to work

(What Windows Hello sees when presented with anything but a live human being)

For the face detection feature, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make that aspect of Windows Hello as reliable as possible. The Windows Hello team co-engineered the feature with the Microsoft OS Security Team, and has tested the feature with over 13,000 unique faces, with a target of capturing 30,000 by the time the feature is ready for primetime. This involved capturing the faces of peoples from a mix of ethnicities, height, weight, skin color, wearing and not wearing glasses, and more, captured in a range of different angles and lighting conditions. Microsoft used its expertise in machine learning to better prepare the feature for the potential millions of people that use Windows 10 and have hardware that supports Windows Hello.

Speaking of hardware support. Windows Hello will work with all existing fingerprint capable devices. We assume that includes those available on laptops, and possibly future Windows phone devices with a fingerprint sensor. Face detection will require an Intel RealSense camera, or a device with an IR sensor that meets the “Microsoft sensor spec”. Lastly, Microsoft claims that a selection of devices with supported iris detection hardware will arrive to market within the next 12 months, and that it will provide more details on this mode of entry soon.

As for Microsoft Passport, Microsoft will encourage users to create a PIN code during Windows 10 setup. This PIN will be tied to a user’s Microsoft Account, so the PIN can be used across devices. Users can also use the PIN to make purchases in the Windows Store. The software giant claims that not only will a PIN make it simpler for users to gain access to devices and services, but it will also reduce costs for developers as they no longer have to maintain password compromise and reset systems.

I remain hopeful that Windows Hello will encourage OEMs to include the necessary biometric hardware in their devices as the feature can also be used as a selling point. This would also, finally, bring biometrics to the mainstream. Let us know what you think of Windows Hello and whether it’s a feature that would determine your purchase choices in the comments below.