Windows Hello To Gain Companion Device Authentication

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Fed up with typing your PIN or password to access your Windows PC? Looks like Microsoft has you covered, with Microsoft announcing companion device capabilities for Windows Hello at Ignite this weekend.

Although the capability was specifically mentioned under the header of Windows Hello for Business it seems unlikely that Microsoft would limit this capability to business users unless it leverage a part of the Windows Directory stack, commonly used in enterprise organisations.

Of course Apple already has this capability in MacOS, allowing users to authenticate on their Mac using an iPhone or Apple Watch. Microsoft will take this a step further, allowing users to authenticate using an iPhone, Android or Windows Mobile, as well as a number of other devices, including smartcards and proximity cards. The latter two options clearly only make sense in enterprise.

With the spread of biometric readers to smartphones this seems a logical way to improve the security of Windows 10 on older devices that don’t have compatible Windows Hello hardware – pretty much every machine that’s been upgraded to Windows 10 I’d imagine.

This should make Windows 10 a more attractive option for many users, although I suspect the focus on Windows Hello for Business was an indication that Microsoft is pushing this as a factor in enterprise upgrades. The reliability of such a service would need to be proven, for example its ability to handle authentication when network connectivity between devices isn’t available.

That the first device to support this capability will be an iPhone speaks volumes for Microsoft’s own belief in its enterprise focus for Windows 10 Mobile.

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