Passwords should be a thing of the past, or so Microsoft thinks. For the next version of Windows 10, the company wants to make logins easier and more secure by getting rid of pesky passwords and replacing them with codes.
Fast Ring users of Microsoft's beta program have just received Preview Build 18309, also known as 19H1, which primarily focuses on bringing password-less login options on the operating system. Microsoft had been testing the feature on Windows 10 Home specifically, but it decided to port it over to all other iterations as well.
No More Passwords On Windows 10
To take advantage of password-less logins, Microsoft requires users to provide their phone number to receive unique SMS codes, which is then used to log in. This technically still sounds similar to inputting a password, but it's far more secure since the code will be different for each login, thus making the host device less vulnerable to breaches or hacks. What's more, the feature is available right off the bat — no need to go through Windows Hello Face, a PIN, or a fingerprint reading.
How To Set It Up
One caveat is that users will need a Microsoft account for this to work, but it's fairly easy to create one. Just download a Microsoft app — Word, for example — on iOS or Android, and hit the "sign in or sign up for free" option. After creating a password-less account, users can immediately sign in to Windows via SMS codes. Here's how:
• Go to Settings > Accounts > Family & other Users > "Add someone else to this PC."
• Lock the device and select the phone number account from the Windows sign-in screen.
• Since the account doesn't have a password, select "Sign in options," click the alternative "PIN" tile, and click "Sign in."
• Go through web sign in and the Windows Hello set up, which is what will be used to sign in to the account on subsequent logins.
Microsoft has been laying the groundwork for a password-less future, and that goal involves two promises: first is users should never have to deal with passwords in their day-to-day lives, and second is their credentials cannot be cracked, breached, or phished.
"At its core, our fundamental philosophy is simple: devalue the password, and replace it with something that eradicates its use for the end user and drains its value for an attacker," the company wrote in a blog post.
SMS logins are part of the latest Windows 10 preview build, which is only available for users who are part of Microsoft's Insider Program, for which anyone can sign up.