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Microsoft Edges Closer to a Passwordless Future

Passwordless Future

The IT giant Microsoft has announced that its fully passwordless login architecture will now be made available to Microsoft consumers. Previously, Microsoft had only allowed passwordless login to Enterprise customers, starting in March 2021. Before that, virtually all Microsoft products required a standard username and password combination to access.

However, as the inefficacy of traditional password systems has become clearer and Microsoft users have been exposed to devastating data breaches, the company is making big moves to overhaul its customer-facing security architecture. So what does Microsoft’s password login mean for you?

What is Microsoft’s new passwordless login?

Microsoft’s passwordless login consists of an email or text message authentication, which you can use for products such as Office and Outlook. To access this, you must first make sure you have the latest Windows update installed. Then you can just go to your Advanced Setting and select the new option to switch on “passwordless account” features.

Once you have done this, you can log in without any password at all, as Microsoft will send verification codes to the phone number or email they have for your account going forward. You can also use the official Microsoft authenticator app, Microsoft Hello, to authenticate your login.

Note that this feature is not available for Windows 7 or earlier. In addition, those using Office 2010 or earlier or Xbox 360 will not be able to access this feature.

Why is Microsoft doing this now?

Microsoft Edges Closer to a Passwordless Future

Source: Unsplash

You might be wondering why Microsoft has decided to take the passwordless plunge right now. After all, Bill Gates predicted the death of the password over 16 years ago but did nothing until 2021. There are many factors at play here. Chief among these is the competition.

Major OS systems like Apple have used passwordless authentication as standard for over five years now, often opting for fingerprint or Face ID. Meanwhile, many brands and companies now opt for verification codes instead of passwords as a means of keeping customers safe. As consumers adapt to the passwordless reality, Microsoft is, to an extent, playing catch up.

Passwordless is fast becoming the gold standard

All of the signs indicate that we are heading to a future without passwords. Other companies have been providing passwordless login architecture to users and companies for years now. This is mostly because of security risks associated with the traditional password system. As this expert explainer of passwordless MFA spells out, humans cannot be trusted with passwords.

80% of successful hacks are completed using stolen credentials, since it is relatively easy to find out or even guess somebody’s password (the most common password on Earth is still “Password1”). By using a fingerprint or verification code login, you are immediately making it much more difficult for a hacker to access your personal accounts and business owners can maintain strong customer satisfaction, knowing that their systems and data are more secure. This is a simple but highly effective line of defense that will most likely become the norm in the coming years.

Passwordless logins are more secure and convenient, so it’s great to see Microsoft finally following suit. We’ll be following closely to see how the industry and its customers respond to this new feature.

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