Microsoft Touts Progress with Windows Hello

Posted on January 12, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 32 Comments

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.

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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Comments (33)

33 responses to “Microsoft Touts Progress with Windows Hello”

  1. 289

    "What was missing, what is still missing, is Windows Hello peripherals one can add to existing PCs."

    PC OEMs certainly want you to buy new computers that have these capabilities embedded.  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.  I can only assume that this will be a thing in 2017.  

  2. 6437

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

  3. 7077

    Except the preview builds keep breaking the Razer StarGazer.

  4. 1475

    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.

  5. 9201

    SP4 very reliable and quick at logging me in, and also reauthenticates on any MS Store Payments, nice.

    But then I am one ugly pig, its not difficult.

  6. 514

    I'm using a USB Eicon mini fingerprint reader that I got on Amazon for $25.  I've been using it on an  HP Spectre X360 laptop (W10 RS1) for about 5 months now -- it works well -- very easy to setup from within Windows' settings app.

    I'm not sure we'll ever see mainstream H/W vendors enter this space -- it's too much of a niche market.

  7. 5553

    CNBC saying Apple's run is over. Stock dropping LOL 

  8. 2481

    I now and am using the Hello camera on my SP4 but I do wonder how secure is this thing...


    • 8834

      In reply to harmjr:

      Your bio data never leaves your computer.  Local account, Microsoft Account, Active Directory, whatever.... it stays local.  Reading your face is done using infrared, so showing a photo of your face to the camera won't work either.

      The local security depends on the hardware security capabilities of your system.  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.  BitLocker will help too, of course.

      If you're curious about the subject, google for "Windows Hello".  Lots of info out there on it.

  9. 5592

    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:

    Fingerprint scan
    Iris scan
    Face recognition
    ECG recognition
    Key based authentication with hardware key
    Key based authentication with NFC
    Smartphone authentication

    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.

  10. 1442

    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.

    • 5184

      In reply to cheetahdriver:

      Mine's practically instant with SP4.  Almost too fast.  Sometimes I second guess that it even looked at me.  I wonder what the factors are that influence the speed.  Is it physical characteristics with each person or environmental?

      • 165

        In reply to jwpear:
        That is my experience as well with my SP4.
        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...
  11. 5394

    Windows Hello peripherals need to be built into the devices, laptops, 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.

  12. 437

    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 stores. 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.

  13. 5553

    And I said goodbye to my three days old xb1s console  / controller gaming sucks.

    Fantastic for media consumption great build quality and quiet but not my cup of tea. 

    Steam I'm back ! PC rocks.

  14. 958

    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  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.  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.



  15. 442

    Still waiting for the basic finger print pad to appear on keyboards, routinely!  WHY hasn't Microsoft even done this?!?  Fail.

    At least it's on the Surface Pro keyboard, and works flawlessly.  Needs to be in desktop keyboards ASAP.

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