RIP Passwords: Microsoft Testing Big Change for Windows 10

Microsoft is taking another big step toward its eventual goal of getting rid of passwords once and for all. 

Set for 2020, the next major update to Windows 10 will let you enable a completely passwordless sign-in for all Microsoft accounts on a Windows 10 laptop, tablet or desktop, The Verge reports. Microsoft already lets you log in to Microsoft Accounts without a password, but now it will be going a step further by removing the username and password options from the system login screen if users choose to go passwordless. 

The password-killing feature is currently being rolled out to a "small portion" of Windows Insiders as part of the Preview Build 18936. To use it, Insiders simply need to go to Settings, then Accounts and switch "Make your device passwordless" to "On" in the "Sign-in options" menu. 

Faster, more secure sign-in is especially crucial for businesses, which is why Microsoft is also expanding the passwordless feature to enterprise users through Azure Active Directory, a cloud-based identity and access management system. 

Microsoft has campaigned for several months to rid the internet of passwords, which it argues are inefficient and less secure than modern authentication techniques.  The introduction of Windows Hello in Windows 10 has been a catalyst in getting laptop makers to include alternative sign-in technology, such as face recognition and fingerprint readers, in their devices. 

Microsoft envisions a future in which Windows 10 customers sign into all of their accounts --- whether social media, banking or email --- using Windows Hello. As The Verge reports, Microsoft even believes a four-number PIN is more secure than a password because it is stored on the device, not online. More specifically, a private key is kept on a TPM, or Trusted Platform Module, a secure chip found in most business notebooks and desktops.

Other sign-in options Microsoft offers include the Microsoft Authenticator Android or iOS app, which asks users to simply accept a login request. More recently, Microsoft has added the option to set up and log into a Windows 10 PC using just a phone number

Removing the password option in Windows 10 for users with Windows Hello is a significant move for Microsoft, a company that has repeatedly declared war on the traditional way of logging into accounts. With more and more laptops shipping with alternative sign-in methods, most users will be able to enjoy the benefits of a passwordless Windows 10. Let's just hope those modern authentication methods trickle down to less expensive laptops, so more people can have a faster, more secure future when logging into their accounts. 

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.