Microsoft Touts Progress with Windows Hello

Microsoft Touts Progress with Windows Hello

Today, Microsoft revealed that there are now over 100 unique biometric-enabled Windows devices and accessories available across all form factors.

This sounds good, right? But you may recall that I had previously questioned why there were no no mainstream Windows Hello hardware peripherals available. That was back in June 2016, and looking at the situation today, I can’t honestly say that things have improved much in the intervening seven months.

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That said, things have improved, if only slightly. There are certainly more PCs that come with Windows Hello hardware than was the case in mid-2016. But that wasn’t really my complaint. What was missing, what is still missing, is Windows Hello peripherals one can add to existing PCs. They exist, yes. But not from major hardware makers. Even Microsoft doesn’t sell such a peripheral, which is crazy to me. (Yes, Microsoft does sell one Surface Pro 4 keyboard cover with a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader.)

But progress is progress. And in a blog post today, Microsoft did highlight some new Windows Hello peripherals, and each is unique in its own way. They are:

Nymi Band. This is a wearable device, a wristband, with a tappable area you can use to sign-in to your PC. It’s not exactly a fingerprint reader; instead, it uses unique electrocardiogram (ECG) based authentication technology. You can learn more here.

YubiKey for Windows Hello. Well-known about the security conscious, YubiKey now sells a USB-based Windows Hello companion hardware device that incorporates both key-based and certificate-based authentication. You can learn more here.

RSA SecureID Access Authenticator. This app turns your smartphone into a Windows Hello authenticator, so you can use proximity sensing to sign-in to your PC. You can learn more here.

HID Global Seos card. This NFC-based companion device is basically a smart employee badge that enables you to tap to unlock Windows Hello. More info here.


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Conversation 33 comments

  • 6437

    12 January, 2017 - 1:10 pm

    <p>Untill I can use Hello to to sign into websites, encrypt files, pay for things, and etc the peripherals have no use.</p>

    • 5592

      12 January, 2017 - 1:18 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#35938">In reply to </a><a href="../../../users/emanon2121">emanon2121</a><a href="#35938">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Of course, once you’re securely logged in to your local, trusted device the encrypted store of authentication tokens for those other items are available to you. And only to you.</p>

      • 5553

        12 January, 2017 - 1:24 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#35943">In reply to </a><a href="../../../users/MikeGalos">MikeGalos</a><a href="#35943">:</a>Touche!</em></blockquote>

    • 8834

      12 January, 2017 - 1:32 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#35938">In reply to </a><a href="../../../users/emanon2121">emanon2121</a><a href="#35938">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Using Windows Hello + Edge to log into a web site already works. Read about it here:</p>
      <p><a href=""></a></p&gt;
      <p>There is an open web standard called "Web Authentication" currently being developed by Microsoft, Google,&nbsp;Mozilla and Paypal that will&nbsp;make this work across all browsers.</p>
      <p><a href=""></a></p&gt;
      <p>On the subject of web payments, there are web standards being worked on in this area as well, which will work in conjunction with Web Authentication. &nbsp;Give it another 2-4 years to achieve wide usage, and you’ll be able to purchase things&nbsp;many web sites using facial recognition technology, fingerprints, etc., from any browser. &nbsp;Basically, what Apple’s proprietary Apple Pay stuff already does, but open.</p>

      • 5485

        13 January, 2017 - 3:22 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#35952">In reply to </a><a href="../../../users/warren">warren</a><a href="#35952">:</a></em></blockquote>
        <p>It works if the Website to support it. Because none do, it does not work.&nbsp;</p>
        <p>The way for it to work right now is if Microsoft does something like Apple has. Called Keychain (You don’t need Lastpass with Apple OS’s). Allow the user to unlock something like the&nbsp;Keychain with "Windows Hello" and then the chain figures out which password/login (key) to use on that websites (like Lastpass but better). In Windows 10 you may try&nbsp;Enpass does seams to do this, but the process is still cumbersome.&nbsp;</p>

  • 5592

    12 January, 2017 - 1:23 pm

    <p>What’s really nice to see is not just 3rd party vendors providing Windows Hello peripherals but that they’re not just using the methods introduce with the Microsoft initial release. Right now we’ve got:</p>
    <p style="padding-left: 30px;">Fingerprint scan<br />Iris scan<br />Face recognition<br />ECG recognition<br />Key based authentication with hardware key<br />Key based authentication with NFC<br />Smartphone authentication</p>
    <p>That’s a pretty neat extensibility message and a demonstration that Microsoft didn’t include just a few methods but an actual extensible framework that’s clearly much easier to work with than the old Custom GINA system.</p>

  • 5553

    12 January, 2017 - 1:23 pm

    <p>And I said goodbye to my three days old xb1s console…wow console &nbsp;/ controller gaming sucks.</p>
    <p>Fantastic for media consumption great build quality and quiet but not my cup of tea.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>Steam I’m back ! PC rocks.</p>

  • 437

    12 January, 2017 - 1:55 pm

    <p>Yeah it’s still sad the lack of mainstream devices, I bought myself the Intel realsense camera direct through Intel but as you’ve stated prior this is a developers tool and not sold in commercial&nbsp;stores.&nbsp;You can’t just easily go into an electronics store and pick up a Windows Hello enabled webcam, sure there are plenty of fingerprinter readers you can order off of say Amazon but there are no real mainstream products. For the most part you do have to go out of your way to get a Windows Hello peripheral.</p>

  • 5394

    12 January, 2017 - 2:17 pm

    <p>Windows Hello peripherals need to be built into the devices,&nbsp;laptops,&nbsp;or PCs. This is long overdue. The responsibility of Microsoft is to ensure some better designed peripherals is recommended for these devices so they are installed by major OEMs. Microsoft needs to design its own peripherals for its own Surface products. I haven’t seen them yet. Why didn’t you ask for Windows Hello to be installed in Surface Studio? Or in monitors, keyboards, and mouse. Whatever.</p>

  • 1442

    Premium Member
    12 January, 2017 - 2:35 pm

    <p>I have found the Hello by camera to still be useless. It will not unlock in any reasonable length of time (or often at all) using the SP4.</p>

    • 5184

      Premium Member
      12 January, 2017 - 4:18 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#35980">In reply to </a><a href="../../../users/cheetahdriver">cheetahdriver</a><a href="#35980">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Mine’s practically instant with SP4.&nbsp; Almost too fast.&nbsp; Sometimes I&nbsp;second guess that&nbsp;it even looked at me.&nbsp; I wonder what the factors are that influence the speed.&nbsp; Is it physical characteristics with each person or environmental?</p>

      • 165

        Premium Member
        12 January, 2017 - 9:07 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#36029">In reply to </a><a href="../../../users/jwpear">jwpear</a><a href="#36029">:</a></em></blockquote>
        <blockquote>That is my experience as well with my SP4.</blockquote>
        <blockquote>I also bought two USB fingerprint readers from the Microsoft store for my main and insider preview PCs. They wake the PC from sleep almost instantly…</blockquote>

  • 2481

    Premium Member
    12 January, 2017 - 2:45 pm

    <p>I now and am using the Hello camera on my SP4 but I do wonder how secure is this thing…</p>

    • 8834

      12 January, 2017 - 7:39 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#35982">In reply to </a><a href="../../../users/harmjr">harmjr</a><a href="#35982">:</a></em></blockquote>
      <p>Your bio data never leaves your computer. &nbsp;Local account, Microsoft Account, Active Directory, whatever…. it stays local. &nbsp;Reading your face is done using infrared, so showing a photo of your face to the camera won’t work either.</p>
      <p>The local security depends on the hardware security capabilities of your system. &nbsp;If you have a TPM, for example, then your biometric information is stored in a secure enough fashion that you can’t move the HDD to another machine to retrieve it. &nbsp;BitLocker will help too, of course.</p>
      <p>If you’re curious about the subject, google for "Windows Hello". &nbsp;Lots of info out there on it.</p>

  • 5553

    12 January, 2017 - 5:04 pm

    <p>CNBC saying Apple’s run is over. Stock dropping LOL&nbsp;</p>

  • 514

    12 January, 2017 - 6:02 pm

    <p>I’m using a USB Eicon mini fingerprint reader that I got on Amazon for $25.&nbsp; I’ve been using it on an&nbsp; HP Spectre X360 laptop (W10 RS1) for about 5 months now — it works well — very easy to setup from within Windows’ settings app.</p>
    <p>I’m not sure we’ll ever see mainstream H/W vendors enter this space — it’s too much of a niche market.</p>

  • 289

    Premium Member
    12 January, 2017 - 6:22 pm

    <p>"What was missing, what is still missing, is Windows Hello peripherals one can add to existing PCs."</p>
    <p>PC OEMs certainly want you to&nbsp;buy new computers that have these capabilities embedded. &nbsp;It is surprising though that there aren’t a bunch of Logitech keyboards and mice that incorporate fingerprint readers, and cameras that include facial recognition; seems like an easy way to have lots of people upgrade otherwise perfectly good Logitech products. &nbsp;I can only assume that this will be a thing in 2017. &nbsp;</p>

  • 442

    13 January, 2017 - 9:48 am

    <p>Still waiting for the basic finger print pad to appear on keyboards, routinely!&nbsp; WHY hasn’t Microsoft even done this?!?&nbsp; Fail.</p>
    <p>At least it’s on the Surface Pro keyboard, and works flawlessly.&nbsp; Needs to be in desktop keyboards ASAP.</p>

  • 9201

    13 January, 2017 - 9:59 am

    <p>SP4 very reliable and quick at logging me in, and also reauthenticates on any MS Store Payments, nice.</p>
    <p>But then I am one ugly pig, its not difficult.</p>

  • 1475

    13 January, 2017 - 10:59 am

    <p>Windows Hello is great. I’ve been using a WBF fingerprint reader since WBF support was added in Windows 7. Excited for Windows Hello-enabled HID cards and prox cards too.</p>

  • 7077

    14 January, 2017 - 12:57 am

    <p>Except&nbsp;the preview builds keep breaking the Razer StarGazer.</p>

  • 958

    31 January, 2017 - 2:51 pm

    <p>The YubiKey option is a bit of a pain. I wanted to use this option because I use YubiKeys on other systems. First you have to have a YubiKey that supports CCID ($40). Once you have it setup and tied to your system it’s not going to log &nbsp;you in after a reboot, only if you lock the computer manually or have it set to lock after a period of non-use. Then you have to click on "sign-in options", stick in your yubikey and click on the Yubikey icon and then the system unlocks. &nbsp;It seems like it’s just easier to type in a pin or set-up a hello camera or a invest in a fingerprint scanner.</p>

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