Why it matters: Apple, Google, and Microsoft pledged to cooperate on using FIDO to create cross-platform passwordless logins in 2022. Since then, Apple and Google have rapidly expanded their implementations of the technology across their devices and services. Now, Microsoft is stepping up with the latest Windows 11 preview build.
Windows 11 preview build 23486 expands the operating system's support for biometric logins. Beta testers should now be able to log in to websites and apps supporting FIDO passkeys using their face, fingerprints, and PINs through Windows Hello or authenticated mobile devices.
To get started, log into a website that allows passkeys, make a passkey in the account settings section, log out, and then log back in using the passkey. To manage passkeys on a Windows device, head to Settings > Accounts > Passkeys.
Last year, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and the FIDO Alliance intensified an initiative to spread passwordless logins using passkeys. The technology creates an encrypted key that remains on a device, activated through a PIN, fingerprint, or facial recognition. The key can sign into matching accounts for apps and websites without the user needing to enter any information, effectively turning a PC or mobile device into a physical authenticator.
Passkeys are safer than passwords because they can only be activated from assigned devices and aren't stored on servers, so hackers can't remotely steal them. Furthermore, using biometrics or PINs is far easier than entering, memorizing, or storing passwords. The system bypasses the need for typical security measures like strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and password managers.
Apple began its big push toward passkey support with iOS 16 and macOS Ventura last year. Soon after, Google brought the functionality to Android and Chrome, and users gained the ability to secure Google accounts with passkeys last month.
Microsoft has been using FIDO, along with Windows Hello, for years, eventually linking it with Apple's and Google's more recent upgrades. Due to this cross-platform cooperation, a person could use their iPhone's Touch ID or Face ID to sign into a website on Google Chrome on their Windows PC, Mac, or Android device. The number of apps and sites supporting passkeys has grown dramatically since the three tech giants started their cooperation.