Microsoft is keen to kill off passwords and replace them with biometric authentication, i.e. your fingerprint, iris or even heartbeat. This is welcome news since it’s quicker and more convenient to hold a finger on a sensor than typing a password. Inevitably you’ll mistype on occasion, or leave the Caps Lock on, and have to type it a second or even third time. Here’s how you’ll be able to unlock your Windows 10 PC with an iPhone soon.
See also: Windows 10 Anniversary Update
First, note that it isn’t possible to do this today: we’ll update this article with specifics when an app is available to tie iPhone and Windows PC together to allow TouchID to unlock Windows 10.
But this is how it will work. The iPhone has a great fingerprint scanner. All it needs to do is securely communicate this to your Windows 10 machine to tell it that it’s really you and that it can safely log in.
At the recent Ignite conference, Microsoft explained that it was expanding Windows Hello to support wearable tech, phones, and IoT devices. Currently, only a handful of laptops and PCs have the necessary infrared camera or fingerprint scanner to scan your iris and allow Windows 10 to unlock. The vast majority of Windows 10 PCs don’t benefit because they lack the hardware. But this expansion means you can use something like an iPhone with a fingerprint reader.
Also, Hello is being expanded to Microsoft Edge so that you can log into websites using the same authentication. This is much more useful as unlocking Windows 10 itself only makes a single password redundant. It’s far better to be able to use your fingerprint to log into any website you like without having to use a password manager or remember which combination of username, email and password you used for that particular site.
As you’d expect, Microsoft’s own devices: Windows 10 Mobile phones and the now-defunct Microsoft Band can be used with Windows Hello. But soon you’ll be able to use your iPhone too.
Most of the presentation focused on the way businesses can use devices such as the Nymi band to unlock work PCs, but consumer devices will be supported soon.
Devices will be able to authenticate via USB, Bluetooth or NFC. The Nymi works by using the user’s heartbeat (ECG) to unlock a PC via Bluetooth or NFC.
In future you’ll also be able to lock a Windows 10 PC using such gadgets. But companion devices are mainly for logging into Windows rather than websites. In order to log into websites and applications, you’ll need to be authenticated by the PC’s own biometric hardware. Biometric information will have o be stored securely on your PC in the form of cryptographic keys.
Microsoft also said that Asus, Huawei, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Plantronics, Symantec and other companies are developing devices for Windows Hello. We’ll update this article when we have more information.