Fingerprints, eye scans to replace passwords in Windows

Passwords will become a thing of the past for Microsoft users as the company introduces the ability to use eye scans or fingerprints to log into certain applications.

The futuristic methods for authenticating users is in line with Microsoft's stated goal — shared by the Obama administration — of phasing out traditional passwords.

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To do this, Microsoft is making the next version of Windows capable of linking to biometric scanners.

Officials with the company announced Friday that Windows 10 will integrate with the Fast Identification Online (FIDO) framework, a series of widely endorsed technical specifications designed to protect users when they log in without a password.

FIDO has the support of major companies such as Google and Bank of America, and it is meant to lay the groundwork for a widespread transition away from the typical login methods, which are less secure.

At the same time, the move toward biometric logins raises its own concerns about privacy and security. If a biometric ID such as a fingerprint is ever stolen, for example, it cannot ever be used safely by its owner again.

Microsoft made its announcement on Friday at the White House summit on cybersecurity at Stanford University.

"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, which is the subject of great discussion here at the White House summit, is the pathway to success," wrote Dustin Ingalls of Microsoft on the company's blog.

Microsoft is contributing to the next version of FIDO specifications, which will be compatible with Windows 10 as the software becomes available this year.

Microsoft is also adding an additional layer of encryption to Internet Explorer, the company said Monday.