It appears Microsoft will beat Apple to market, with an easy to use option for securing devices and files using just a fingerprint.
Detailed late Monday during its TechEd North America developer conference according to The Verge, Microsoft will include native support for fingerprint readers in the update coming to Windows 8 users this fall, Windows 8.1.
Not only will fingerprints join other authentication methods like Picture Password, Pincode and Password; users will be able to authenticate their Microsoft Accounts when making purchases in the Windows Store or “login to apps”.
To achieve this Microsoft will focus on working with fingerprint reader manufacturers to support their hardware in machines, possibly improving the experience of using the technology if it’s already included in older computers that have been upgraded to Windows 8.
Microsoft’s Michael Niehaus, a senior product marketing manager, also discussed a method in which users will be able to lock specific folders on their PC, and require their fingerprint to open saying, “we’re also working with this so that you can actually take folders and say this folder requires fingerprint access to get into”.
According to Microsoft’s Stephen Rose, the company will also move to make fingerprint readers available in everything from keyboards and mice, to the more machines themselves.
If Microsoft does manage to deliver the feature, it’ll have announced and implemented the feature at a time when city governments and police forces are absolutely begging Apple to implement new hardware security features that could help deter thieves from praying on users of its popular iPhone. The New York City Police Department has an entire team of officers assigned to tracking down stolen Apple products.
Rumors have indicated that Apple will replace the ‘home’ button on the face of its upcoming iPhone 5S device with a sapphire crystal button that’s capable of using capacitive touch technology to verify the fingerprint of a user attempting to unlock the device.
Microsoft will make Windows 8.1 available to users sometime this year for free, it’s already announced that it will ship a public preview of the update on June 26th during it’s BUILD conference.