Microsoft has been building better alternatives to passwords into its forthcoming version of Windows, including support for two-factor authentication and biometrics. Now the company is joining forces with the Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) Alliance industry group to spread those technologies to other designs, according to SlashGear.
Under the deal, Microsoft will contribute high-level technical specs and other design inputs from Windows 10 to the next major version of the group's spec, FIDO 2.0. That will make FIDO Windows 10 compatible, and should help push FIDO out to Microsoft partners that are already planning to support Windows 10 authentication, including Salesforce.com, Citrix and Box.
"Transitioning away from passwords and to a stronger form of identity is one of the great challenges that we face in online computing, and we believe FIDO authentication, which is the subject of great discussion here at the White House summit, is the pathway to success," wrote Microsoft Group Program Manager for OS Security Dustin Ingalls in a blog post on Friday (Feb. 13). Ingalls also became president of the FIDO Alliance in January.
The new alignment between Microsoft and FIDO should reduce the risk of fragmentation for the next generation of password replacements. There are already fingerprint scanners and other biometric authentication devices that conform to the current FIDO 1.0 technical specs, so making the two approaches mutually compatible should make life simpler for both hardware and software vendors on PCs.
The deal "could also have an impact on mobile, and quietly suggests biometric scanning may see a larger footprint on Windows 10 for mobile devices with future hardware iterations," SlashGear reported.
That, in turn, might help put Microsoft and Google in the same camp when it comes to mobile biometric authentication. Google is also a member of FIDO, as are Visa and MasterCard. If those four can agree to common specifications, it could go a long way toward spreading biometrics for the non-iPhone mobile world. Apple is conspicuously absent from FIDO's current list of supporters.