When it comes to keeping unauthorised parties from accessing computers, passwords are just not cutting it anymore. Windows Hello is the answer.
Remembering them is a pain, changing them every 30 days is a major inconvenience, and creating new ones that must include three capitals, two South Sudanese dog breeds, non-consecutive non-repeating numbers, at least one factorial polynomial, seven Hieratic hieroglyphs, and a partridge in a pear tree is about as much fun as a migraine.
Face it, passwords suck
The tech world realised this years ago and started working on ways to let people authenticate themselves on digital systems without using passwords at all. Microsoft’s contribution to this endeavour came in the form of Windows Hello, a technology for Windows 10 and 11 that lets people unlock their computers using just their faces.
And it’s a great idea. In a perfect world where all conditions are met, someone who has registered their face on Windows Hello can sit down in front of their computer and have their computer automatically scan their face and unlock itself when they are successfully detected. The whole process takes less than a second, so users don’t have to do anything to unlock their computer apart from plonking themselves down in front of it.
IR or no Hello
If you’re one of our astute regular readers, you will have noticed the sly “where all conditions have been met” in the paragraph above. That’s because Microsoft takes security very seriously and won’t let any old webcam perform the facial recognition needed to tell Windows Hello that the right person is present. No, for a webcam to work with Windows Hello, it has to have infrared skills.
That’s because any old webcam doesn’t have the tech to tell the difference between, say, a picture of your face and your face. By insisting on the webcam support infrared (a lesson the company learned from the Xbox Kinect), Microsoft ensures that the webcam checks the technical measurements it needs of your face that are only present on a real, live person. With the help of the IR sensor, Windows Hello picks up body heat and 3D depth, both of which are needed for a successful unlock.
All of this means a photo of your face, or a 3D model made to look like you won’t be able to fool Windows Hello. And that’s important because business laptops are absolutely stuffed with sensitive business data these days and it’s essential that only authorised users can unlock them.
Compatibility is the Crux
The catch, of course, is that not all laptops have infrared webcams, and neither do all webcams for desktops. That means you’re limited only to compatible laptops when it comes to buying them for your business, and of course, these tend to be on the pricey side. If you want a list of the best Windows Hello laptops, we found a good list for you. You could always just go out and buy Windows Hello-compatible webcams, of course.
Since not all laptops are created with Windows Hello compatibility in mind, we recommend talking to your IT supplier to see if they can recommend compatible laptops in your price range. Because having your laptop unlock itself before you’ve even got yourself comfortable is incredibly convenient, it avoids password-related issues entirely, AND it’s incredibly secure. There’s no downside, other than cost. Your staff will absolutely love it.
If you don’t like the idea of springing for all-new laptops with fancy webcams, Windows Hello also supports fingerprint sensors, iris recognition, and the use of PINs to unlock PCs. Facial recognition is the fastest and most convenient, but the others have their uses too.
Ultimately, it’s possible to secure Windows 10 and 11 laptops with super secure yet completely convenient technology. Now that’s progress!