Windows 10 will be out this summer, available in 111 languages and in 190 countries around the world.
In an effort to boost their (legal) numbers in China, Microsoft will offer free upgrades from Windows 7 or above to Windows 10 even to owners of pirated versions of Windows. Joe Wilcox thinks it’s a great move, for several reasons.
In the meantime, the company is drumming up interest in the new OS by sharing new features. Among them is Windows Hello, which will allow users to authenticate themselves and access their machine seamlessly by simply showing their face to the camera, or putting their finger on a fingerprint reader.
Microsoft considers this new way of authentication more secure than using passwords – so secure, in fact, that it can be used in government organizations, the defense, financial, and health care industry.
“Our system enables you to authenticate applications, enterprise content, and even certain online experiences without a password being stored on your device or in a network server at all,” explained Joe Belfiore, who runs the team building the various versions of Windows.
“If your device already has a fingerprint reader, you’ll be able to use Windows Hello to unlock that device. For facial or iris detection, Windows Hello uses a combination of special hardware and software to accurately verify it is you – not a picture of you or someone trying to impersonate you. The cameras use infrared technology to identify your face or iris and can recognize you in a variety of lighting conditions.”
Belfiore also introduced Windows Passport, a “programming system that IT managers, software developers and website authors can use to provide a more secure way of letting you sign-in to their sites or apps.”
Unlike with passwords, with which you authenticate yourself to apps, sites and networks, Passport allows Windows 10 to do that in your stead: again, without sending up a password to their servers.
“Windows 10 will ask you to verify that you have possession of your device before it authenticates on your behalf, with a PIN or Windows Hello on devices with biometric sensors. Once authenticated with ‘Passport’, you will be able to instantly access a growing set of websites and services across a range of industries,” says Belfiore.
Using Windows Hello and Passport is, of course, optional, but Belfiore points out that your biometric data cannot be stolen. “Your “biometric signature’ is secured locally on the device and shared with no one but you. It is only used to unlock your device and ‘Passport’, it is never used to authenticate you over the network,” he noted.