Surface Book Tip: Enable Windows Hello Sign-In

Posted on October 26, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 0 Comments


While there are many reasons to consider a Surface Book, its integration with useful new Windows 10 features is pretty high on the list. And key among these features is Windows Hello, a new way to sign-in to Surface Book, in this case with facial recognition.

I’ve been testing Windows Hello since the feature debuted during the Windows Insider program, first with a fingerprint reader, and then more recently with facial recognition. Windows 10 also supports iris scanning, though I’ve not tested this style of sign-in yet. (The new Lumia 950 and 950 XL handsets will include iris scanning capabilities.)

Surface Book includes a Microsoft-designed front-facing camera that has the necessary IR sensor and other hardware to facilitate facial recognition. So it’s a simple matter to enable Windows Hello and starting signing-in to your Surface Book automatically.

Surface Book Tip: Enable Windows Hello Sign-In

There are a couple of prerequisites. First, Windows Hello requires the built-in front-facing camera in Surface Book, so if you’re using your device docked with Surface Dock and an external web cam, that ain’t going to work. (I use Surface Book with the lid closed while docked, at least for now.) And you must first set up a PIN before you can enable Windows Hello, which I’d imagine most people do immediately when prompted during initial setup.

Enabling Windows Hello couldn’t be easier, and works much as I first described in Windows 10: Hands-On with Windows Hello Facial Recognition: You navigate to Settings (WINKEY + I), Accounts, Sign-In Options, click the Set Up button under Windows Hello, and just follow along with the wizard.


After entering your PIN, the wizard will make sure you’re front and center, and facing the camera, and then it will use what appears to be “Paranormal Activity” technology to recognize your face. It takes just a few seconds, and you’ll see the little red IR light on the camera come on during this process.


When the wizard completes, you’re given the opportunity to improve recognition, and of course you can do this at any time in the future as well. This is useful for people with glasses—you should run a scan with and without the glasses—and for those who use the device in different lighting conditions. That said, Windows Hello facial recognition is actually pretty amazing after even a single pass.


After you’re done, you’ll see a few new options in Sign-In Options: you can improve recognition or remove this functionality, enable/disable Windows Hello facial recognition on the fly, and businesses can specify stricter sign-in requirements, usually via policy. (This simply requires a longer run with the wizard, but you’ll be walked through this if needed, or if you enable it for yourself.)


Now, you’re good to go: Thanks to Windows Hello facial recognition, you will automatically sign-in to Surface Book each time you sit in front of the device. Just wait until you see how fast this is.


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