Microsoft is planning to make Windows 10 devices passwordless in a forthcoming Windows 10 update – at least when it comes to logging into Microsoft accounts.
From this week, Windows 10 Insiders are able to download a new Preview build that will enable users to deploy more modern authentication methods to sign into their Microsoft accounts.
In Preview Build 18936, a limited number of users will see the option to enable passwordless sign-in on the Windows 10 device in question.
Users will need to head to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options, and select ‘On’ under ‘Make your device passwordless’. This will enable Windows Hello sign-in for the Microsoft accounts on the device. Those methods could include facial recognition, fingerprint, pin and a secure authentication key, as you can see below.
In a blog post Dona Sarkar and Brandon LeBlanc wrote: “For improved security and a more seamless sign-in experience, you can now enable passwordless sign-in for Microsoft accounts on your Windows 10 device.
“Enabling passwordless sign in will switch all Microsoft accounts on your Windows 10 device to modern authentication with Windows Hello Face, Fingerprint, or PIN. Don’t have Windows Hello set up yet? No problem! We’ll walk you through the setup experience on your next sign-in. Curious how a Windows Hello PIN is more secure than a password? Learn more here.”
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The option is in very limited preview right now, with Microsoft planning to open up the feature to more Insiders in due course. The feature may not be ready for the next major Windows 10 update, which is due this autumn, likely in October.
Microsoft’s move comes at a time when a number of the major players, including the makers of web browsers like Chrome and Firefox are moving to secure authentication in order to get rid of easily hackable and reused passwords. Alternatives like password managers have become popular, but we’ve seen multiple reports of vulnerabilities in recent times.