Relax, Windows Hello is NOT a Beta on the PC

Posted on December 14, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 33 Comments

Last night, Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar asked Windows Insiders via Twitter whether it was time for Windows Hello to exit beta. Fortunately, she was talking about Windows Hello iris recognition in Windows 10 Mobile only, not Windows 10 for PCs as I had originally feared.

With that said, here are my two updates and then the original article.

UPDATE: As a number of readers have pointed out, it is possible that Dona was speaking only about Windows Hello facial recognition on Windows phones, which is indeed in beta and would impact a much smaller audience. But … she did not write that in her original tweet.  So I hope that’s true. –Paul

UPDATE 2: Dona has confirmed that this was only about phone, thankfully. We can stand down. 🙂 –Paul

I find that confusing and distressing for a simple, easily-defensible reason: Windows Hello isn’t an app. It’s a security feature that is directly tied to the safety of your personal information and your personal data, and such an important feature should be clearly marked as “beta,” and thus “not actually known to be safe and secure.”

But it is not.

Stepping through the Windows Hello onboarding process in the most current, shipping version of Windows 10, I see no warnings at all about the beta status of this important security technology.

If you navigate to Settings, Accounts, Sign-In Options, you can see it for yourself (assuming you have Windows Hello-compatible hardware, like a fingerprint reader or specially-configured webcam). There’s no warning here about a beta.

sign-in-01

Nor is there a warning when you select the Set up button.

sign-in-02

And that “Learn more” link? It actually triggers a Bing search result, rather than directing you to the in-box Help information. Which is nuts in many ways too.

bing

The thing is, I shouldn’t have to do research to find out that such a thing is a beta. And yet, when I do, I see no language to that effect anywhere.

The Microsoft support page for Windows Hello says nothing about a beta. (This is the exact same information you get in the in-box support app, called Get Started, by the way. No mention of a beta.) Neither does Microsoft Instant Answers.

This is irresponsible.

Am I missing something? Am I right to be alarmed that Windows Hello has been deployed to hundreds of millions of users with nary a warning about its incomplete, beta status? I’m not trying to exaggerate the issue here, really. But this just seems wrong to me.

 

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