When it comes to authentication systems, particularly those involving biometric sensors, Microsoft might be considered a latecomer to the party. That said, its Windows Hello platform might actually end up being the most pervasive in the end. That’s because, based on slides and statements made by the company during it recent Ignite 2016 conference, Windows Hello might actually work on more than just Microsoft’s devices, including Android phones and iPhones. When that will happen and to what extent, however, remains shrouded in uncertainty.
Windows Hello is Microsoft’s brand for its authentication system, which is perhaps best seen in its face recognition login and, more recently, fingerprint sensor support. These two, however, are currently limited to Windows 10 devices. So why expand to other mobile operating systems.
The answer practically comes from the same idea behind things like two-step authentication, where the second step usually involves something that a person always has with him or her. In most cases, that translates to a smartphone, where the user authenticates via pin codes sent via SMS, fingerprint sensors, or an authenticator app.
In Microsoft’s vision for Windows Hello, that smartphone could be used to gain access not just to computers but possibly even places where key fobs or badges are used. It also goes beyond just smartphones, including wearables and USB sticks.
It isn’t that hard to see this becoming reality, especially with Microsoft’s renewed push in the enterprise, where Windows Hello could become the method of choice to gain access to restricted files, computers, and areas. And Microsoft has long tried to make its technologies available on other, competing platforms, so it won’t be completely unheard of. The biggest question is whether Microsoft will make that technology available to consumers so that they could, for example, immediately and conveniently log into their Windows PCs using just their Android or iOS device.