It’s been several years since Microsoft has released a webcam. But two separate sources tell me that the firm is plotting a return to this market in 2019. And that at least one of the new 4K-capable cameras could work with both Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One.
This is a big deal on a number of levels.
For Windows 10 users, one new Microsoft’s webcam will provide Windows Hello-based authentication, marking the first time the firm has provided this capability on a standalone camera. To date, Microsoft has provided Windows Hello functionality via the camera systems built into its Surface PCs only.
On Xbox One, this webcam could provide a much-missed feature from the Kinect, the ill-fated peripheral that is no longer sold with that console: Users will be able to sign-in automatically simply by moving in front of the camera. This will work with multiple users, too, so that friends or family members can join an in-session game session.
Microsoft’s new webcams might be tied in some way to the new USB-C-based webcam that it will ship alongside Surface Hub 2 later this year as well. That device has multiple USB-C ports around its periphery so that you can mount a single camera where you like, or use multiple cameras. I’ve been told that one Microsoft webcam will be enterprise-focused, and I’m wondering if this isn’t, in fact, the same camera that will be used with Surface Hub 2. Certainly, a Surface-branded webcam with Windows Hello capabilities makes a lot of sense.