The Rise of Passkeys: A Passwordless Future

The Rise of Passkeys: A Passwordless Future

Microsoft is taking a major step towards a passwordless future by fully rolling out passkey support for all consumer accounts. This new feature, which was enabled in Windows 11 last year, allows Microsoft account owners to generate passkeys across Windows, Android, and iOS devices. Passkeys make it easy to sign in to a Microsoft account without the need to type a password each time. Users can create passkeys for their Microsoft account by choosing from options such as their face, fingerprint, PIN, or a security key.

Passkeys can replace traditional passwords by utilizing the authentication methods available on your device. For example, you can sign in to various accounts such as Gmail, PayPal, or iCloud by simply using features like Face ID on your iPhone, the fingerprint sensor on your Android phone, or Windows Hello on a PC. Built on WebAuthn technology, passkeys generate two different keys: one stored by the website or service where your account is, and a private key stored on the device you use for verification.

One common concern with passkeys is the possibility of losing access if the device storing them gets broken or lost. However, since passkeys work across multiple devices, users often have a backup available. Additionally, many services that support passkeys offer alternative reauthentication methods such as phone numbers, email addresses, or hardware security keys for added security.

Passkeys have quickly gained popularity and are now the industry norm, with major tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft adopting them. Over 400 million Google accounts have already used passkeys, indicating a strong preference for this passwordless authentication method. Companies like 1Password and Dashlane have also added support for passkeys in their password managers to provide users with more secure sign-in options.

Microsoft’s introduction of passkeys is part of a broader effort to move towards a passwordless future. The company initially introduced Windows Hello authentication in 2015, allowing users to sign in to PCs using their face, fingerprint, or a PIN. Subsequently, Microsoft added support for FIDO security keys in 2018 before offering a fully passwordless option for Microsoft accounts in 2021. The widespread adoption of passkeys underscores Microsoft’s commitment to enhancing security and user experience across its products and services.

The rise of passkeys signals a significant shift towards a passwordless future in the tech industry. With major players like Microsoft leading the way, passkeys are fast becoming the preferred authentication method for users seeking a more secure and seamless sign-in experience. As more companies embrace this technology, we can expect to see widespread adoption of passkeys as the new standard for secure authentication online.


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