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What is Windows Hello? Microsoft’s biometrics security system explained

Windows Hello is a biometrics-based technology that enables Windows 10 users to authenticate secure access to their devices, apps, online services and networks with just a fingerprint, iris scan or facial recognition. The sign-in mechanism is essentially an alternative to passwords and is widely considered to be a more user friendly, secure and reliable method to access critical devices, services and data than traditional logins using passwords.

“Windows Hello solves a few problems: security and inconvenience,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights Strategy. “Traditional passwords are unsafe as they are hard to remember, and therefore people either choose easy-to-guess passwords or write down their passwords.”

It is not uncommon for people to use the same password (or variations) across multiple sites and applications. Windows Hello and other biometric authentication features like Apple’s Face ID or Touch ID are designed to offer an alternative to passwords that is unique and more secure because it relies on technology that’s harder to break.

How Windows Hello works

Windows Hello limits the attack surface for Windows 10 by eliminating the need for passwords and other methods under which identities are more likely to be stolen. “Windows Hello lets a user authenticate a Microsoft account or a non-Microsoft service that supports Fast Identity Online (FIDO) by having the user set up a gesture” such as a facial scan, iris scan or fingerprint to log into a device, said Anoosh Saboori, senior program manager lead at Microsoft.

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