Windows 10 will offer password-free authentication

The upcoming Windows 10 will offer more authentication options instead of just passwords, Dustin Ingalls, Group Program Manager for Windows Security & Identity, has shared in a blog post.

“I’m happy to announce Microsoft has contributed design inputs to the Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) Alliance, to be incorporated within FIDO 2.0 Technical Specifications. Transitioning away from passwords and to a stronger form of identity is one of the great challenges that we face in online computing, and we believe FIDO authentication […] is the pathway to success,” he said.

Launched in February 2013, the FIDO Alliance is an industry association aimed at revolutionizing online authentication with an industry supported standards-based open protocol that will supplant reliance on passwords. In December 2014, the alliance published final 1.0 drafts of two specifications – Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) and Universal 2nd Factor (U2F).

Microsoft joined the alliance in December 2013 and, as it happens, Ingalls is currently also its president.

“Our current implementation in the Windows 10 Technical Preview reflects our inputs into the FIDO 2.0 Specification Technical Working Group and members of the Windows Insider Program can start evaluating it right away,” says Ingalls.

“The current Technical Preview build enables a number of enterprise scenarios and it showcases our integration with Windows 10 sign-in, Azure Active Directory, and access to major SaaS services like Office 365 Exchange Online, Salesforce, Citrix, Box, Concur, just to name a few. With Windows 10, for the very first time Windows devices and Microsoft-owned and partner SaaS services supported by Azure Active Directory authentication can be accessed end-to-end using an enterprise-grade two-factor authentication solution – all without a password.”

It’s still unknown what specific authentication options Windows 10 users will have.

So far, the Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) involves biometrics, and Universal Second Factor (U2F) uses a physical USB device. Google has already implemented the latter in order to offer an alternative second factor for its two-step account verification option. But, according to FIDO’s plans, Near Field Communications (NFC) and Bluetooth extensions are likely to be completed in 2015.

Windows 10 is apparently set to be released in late 2015.

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