Given the importance of tech security, you’ve got to wonder why alternative solutions haven’t really taken off yet. I’m not talking about two-factor verification, which has become something of a trend lately for online logins. When the vulnerability is local, that doesn’t quite work. Well, there are other options — like fingerprint authentication — but these haven’t gained traction outside of top-secret organizations, governments and corporations.
Is it because the hardware is pricey and finicky, or is it because consumer software support for it has been woefully lacking? Perhaps both, but judging by Microsoft’s latest announcements, those days could be over.
Redmond has been outlining several Windows 8.1 improvements over at its Tech-Ed conference, and among them is fingerprint reading support. In the past, the company relied on third-party providers for the drivers and programs to make these biometric devices work. Now, Microsoft has decided to focus on native support for the feature.
That may not seem all that sexy on the surface, but check this: One of the new features the company is focusing on are folder-specific locks using individual fingers. Now that can be really handy for people in multi-member households with one centralized computer. And it’s also working on allowing users to buy apps by authenticating via fingerprints. None of this works, however, without the scanners, so Microsoft is wheeling and dealing with two or three outside partners/OEMs, to encourage widespread integration of the hardware and broader built-in support.
Anything that can help mitigate the drudgery of the old username/password sign-in dance — without sacrificing security — sounds fabulous to us.