Passwords are becoming unfashionable this days—social media and tech companies are gradually deemphasizing its importance. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google and lately Microsoft, all share a common view on providing what they term better alternative to password login. The good news for all Windows users is that they can now access their Microsoft accounts on the Edge browser without using a password. They now have the option of using Windows Hello, and IDO2-compatible device from Yubico, Feitian, or from other manufacturers.
“Starting today, you can use a FIDO2 device or Windows Hello to sign in to your Microsoft account using the Microsoft Edge browser.”
Products expected to benefit from the new password-free update include OneDrive, Xbox, Live on the PC, Outlook.com, Office 365, Skype, Microsoft Edge, Bing, Cortana, MSN.com, Mixer, and the Microsoft Store.
“This combination of ease of use, security, and broad industry support is going to be transformational both at home and in the modern workplace. Every month, more than 800 million people use a Microsoft account to create, connect, and share from anywhere to Outlook, Office, OneDrive, Bing, Skype, and Xbox Live for work and play. And now they can all benefit from this simple user experience and greatly improved security,” Alex Simons, Corporate Vice President of Program Management said.
Fast Identity Online or FIDO is an alliance that supports public key cryptography and multifactor authentication. When a user registers a FIDO2 device with an online service, a pair of on-device, offline private key and an online public key is created. During the process of authentication, the device “proves possession” of the private key by “prompting you to enter a PIN code or password, provide a fingerprint, or speak into a microphone.”
Now, let’s get straight down to how it works:
To sign in with your Microsoft Account [make sure you have updated to Windows 10 October 2018] using a FIDO2 security key, simply do the following:
- Go to the Microsoft account pageon Microsoft Edge and sign in as you normally would.
- Select Security > More security options and under Windows Hello and security keys, you’ll see instructions for setting up a security key. [You can purchase a security key from any of Microsoft’s partners, including Yubico and Feitian Technologies that support the FIDO2 standard.*]
- When next you sign in, you can either click More Options > Use a security key or type in your username. At that point, you’ll be asked to use a security key to sign in.