By now you most likely have heard about Windows Hello (available on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile), but who knows what it is exactly and how it works. I took the liberty to compile an overview.
Windows Hello is a more personal way to sign in to your Windows 10 devices with just a look or a touch. You’ll get enterprise-grade security without having to type in a password. Windows Hello, part of Windows 10, is a new way to sign in to your devices, apps, online services, and networks. Windows Hello works with a credential technology called Microsoft Passport that’s easier, more convenient, and more secure than using a password, because it uses “biometric authentication”—you sign in with your face, iris, or fingerprint (or a PIN). Devices with face sensors or fingerprint readers running Windows 10 will work now, and iris sensors will be available soon.
From experience I can tell you it’s Powerful, Efficient and Trendy, part of it as it is so well integrated compared to other biometrics solutions and it’s based on proven technology (with some nice enhancements).
What devices are supported?
There are already plenty of new Windows 10 devices to choose from which will support Windows Hello (available on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile). And, if your device already has a fingerprint reader, you’ll be able to use Windows Hello to unlock that device. For facial or iris detection, Windows Hello uses a combination of special hardware and software to accurately verify it is you – not a picture of you or someone trying to impersonate you.
The cameras use infrared technology to identify your face or iris and can recognize you in a variety of lighting conditions.
So to recap, Windows Hello requires specialized hardware, including fingerprint reader, illuminated IR sensor or other biometric sensors.
Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, and most PCs with fingerprint readers are by default ready to use Windows Hello now, and more devices that can recognize your face and iris are coming soon.
Visit this page to get a full list of Windows 10 devices that have support for Windows Hello from the launch. Additional devices that take advantage of the Windows Hello feature will hit the market soon or already have.
Where do I activate the option?
You don’t have to use Windows Hello, you can always sign in using a password or a PIN. If you decide to use Windows Hello and change your mind later, you can turn it off in Settings.
- Go to the Start menu and select Settings.
Go to Accounts > Sign-in options.
Under Windows Hello, select Set up. (If you don’t see a sign-in option for Windows Hello, then your device doesn’t support it.)
So how does it identify the user?
During setup, Windows takes the data captured from the face or iris sensor or fingerprint reader and creates a representation that it encrypts and stores on your device. (This isn’t an image; it’s more like a graph.) The representation of you stays on your device. Windows never stores pictures or images of your face, iris, or fingerprint on your device or anywhere else. That makes it more secure.
what data is used?
Your identification data—the representation of your face, iris, or fingerprint that’s created when you enroll—never leaves your device nor can it be transferred. To help in keeping things working properly, to help detect and prevent fraud, and to continue to make improvements, Microsoft does collect usage data such as which method you used to sign in (face, iris, fingerprint, or PIN), the number of times you signed in, and whether or not each sign in was successful. This data is stripped of any information that could be used to specifically identify you, and it’s encrypted before it’s transmitted to Microsoft.
The identification data collected to sign you in isn’t an actual image. It’s a representation based on the unique qualities of your face, fingerprint, or iris (more like a graph than an image). This data can’t be used to recreate an image of your face, fingerprint, or iris nor can a photo of you be used to sign in. Third parties don’t have access to your Windows Hello identification data.