Skip to main content

Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID review: A great way to add Windows Hello to your PC

The Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID is the first PC keyboard from Microsoft with a Windows Hello compatible fingerprint scanner.

Surface Keyboard
(Image: © Windows Central)

Windows Central Recommended Award

The Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID is Microsoft's latest PC keyboard accessory that builds on the original Surface PC Keyboard in small and subtle ways. It features the same sleek design and awesome chiclet-style typing experience, but with the addition of a Windows Hello compatible fingerprint reader and the ability to use the keyboard in either wired or wireless states.

If you've been looking for a Windows Hello compatible solution that's integrated with your keyboard, look no further.

A valuable peripheral

Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID

$129

Bottom line: The Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID is an excellent keyboard and a great way to add Windows Hello to your Windows 10 PC.

Pros:

  • Beautiful design.
  • Chiclet-style typing experience.
  • Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader.

Cons:

  • Slow fingerprint reads.
  • No backlight.

What you'll love about the Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID

The Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID features the exact same design found on the original Surface PC Keyboard released alongside the Surface Studio in 2016. It has a low-profile modern grey design, and keys that feel excellent to type on. Those keys are framed by an aluminum body that feels premium when compared to most keyboards with a plastic body.

CategorySpec
Connection interfaceBluetooth LE 4.0/4.1/4.2
Wireless frequency2.4Ghz frequency range
Wireless range33 feet (10 meters) in open air, up to 17 feet (5 meters) in office environment typical
CompatibilityWindows 10
Dimensions16.57 in (L) x 4.43 in (W) x 0.76 in (H)
Weight14.58 ounces
Battery TypeNon-removable rechargeable battery
Battery LifeFour months
PortsMicro USB

The key layout is full-size, meaning you've got an included number pad positioned after the arrow keys. Along the top, you have the standard 12 function keys, which feature volume controls, screen brightness, quick access to Task View, Search, and Settings. You also have four extra shortcut buttons on the far right that give you access to Calculator, Action Center, PC lock, and show desktop.

Unlike the original Surface Keyboard, the Modern Keyboard can also be used in either wireless or wired states. This means that if you don't want to use Bluetooth, you can plug in the keyboard with the bundled Micro-USB cable. This is also how you charge the keyboard, as the Modern Keyboard doesn't come with a removable battery. But that's a good thing, because it's more eco and you don't have to keep buying or recharging external batteries.

Once fully charged, the keyboard should last around four months on a single charge. It supports Bluetooth LE 4.0, too, which means it should use very little power. Bluetooth connectivity is up to about 10 meters when in an open space, or about five meters when in an obstructed space.

The other big change between the old Surface Keyboard and the Modern Keyboard is that the second Windows Start key has been replaced with a fingerprint reader. It looks and feels like a normal key, except it no longer opens Start when you tap on it nor does it feature the Start logo. Now, it has a fingerprint logo and only works on the lock screen after Windows Hello has been setup.

To setup the fingerprint reader, you have to first connect your keyboard to your PC via the bundled cable, and then head to Windows Update to make sure all the correct drivers are installed. Then, you just head to the Accounts* > **Sign-in options area in Settings and setup the fingerprint login option. Setting up takes about 30 seconds and requires you to scan your finger multiple times to get an accurate scan.

I love how the fingerprint reader is integrated into the design of the keyboard. It's not in a separate area, nor is it colored differently, and it doesn't look different than any of the other keys.

What you'll dislike about the Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID

The biggest annoyance with this keyboard is the speed and accuracy of the fingerprint reader. It's definitely not the fastest fingerprint scanner on the market, taking about a second or two before it logs you in. You really have to hold down the fingerprint key for it scan you correctly.

I find that taking your time when adding your fingerprint really helps with the accuracy, but unfortunately, it doesn't appear to make it any faster when on the lock screen itself. Logging in with the fingerprint scanner is faster than entering a pin or typing a password, but if you're expecting iPhone 8 level Touch-ID performance, you won't find it here.

I also wish the keyboard used USB-C instead of Micro-USB for charging. The other thing I don't like about this keyboard is its price, $129, which is quite a bit more expensive than the original Surface Keyboard.

Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID bottom line

The Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID is an excellent keyboard with the addition of Windows Hello fingerprint capabilities, meaning it provides a secure and quick way to log into your PC if you don't already have a Windows-Hello compatible peripheral.

The Surface Keyboard and Modern Keyboard are more or less identical. The only differences are the Modern Keyboard can be used wired and has a fingerprint reader. If those things don't matter to you, save a few bucks and get the older Surface Keyboard.

It's the only keyboard on the market that features Windows Hello integration this elegantly. And being able to use the keyboard wired is a nice option. The Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID is the ultimate version of the Surface Keyboard, and it's one of the best keyboards Microsoft makes.

See at Microsoft Store

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

29 Comments
  • I'm sorry but I can't agree on the slow finger print reads. It's instant for me
  • Does it work wirelessly in the BIOS?
  • Have you found any that don't?
  • No but you can plug it in for times when you need to play in the BIOS
  • I prefer proper keyboards, not these horrid flat rubbish things.
    Also, i have no need for Windows hello or a fingerprint reader on my desktop.
  • Yeah, I found it odd that Chiclet-style was listed under Pros.
  • Like the Mac one, my mac owning friend decided to get a proper keyboard for that as well.
  • Hey Microsoft, it's 2018. Micro USB is dead. This is exactly why I don't buy Microsoft hardware.
  • It comes with the cable. What difference does it make (assuming USB-A on the other end)?
  • 100% agree, it is not that having USB-C is going to make the data to and from the keyboard any faster or improve typing skills.
    The same with my phone, it have a micro USB and people say that I should have got one with USB-C, but why? In fact going with the connection it have got is great, because if I go to a mates place and have low battery, I am pretty sure that they will have a cable to fit it, so I can charge it up there.
  • Because if you have a micro USB on the phone you are limited on the 500mA current limit of virtually all USB2 ports, which means that it takes ages to charge a high capacity battery.
    My phone sports USB C and a 3450mAh battery. When charged with its own charger (or plugged into a USB 3 port) it will top in less that 2 hours. Plugged in a USB2 port, this becomes close to 5 hours. That's why I would not buy a phone with micro USB today.
    As a bonus, connecting my phone to a USB C dock gives me a display port, ethernet port and a couple of USB 3 connections, all the same time while charging - also not possible with a micro USB connection.
  • What are you talking about? This is a keyboard, not a phone. And a charge lasts for months. Who cares what connection it uses, when it comes with a cable?
  • Fair enough,. My phone have a micro usb port and charges pretty quickly, for the first 30 mins anyway I do not know what it would do in a usb 3 port as i have never plugged it into a usb 3 port. I put my phone on charge when I go to bed, so how long it takes is not normally a problem, I wonder how people these days would have coped years ago when we had Ni-cads in phones? But even so saying that a keyboard is no good because it have usb2 is getting stupid, it is a keyboard for goodness sake.
  • I have a phone with micro USB and fast charging. With a fast charger, it charges ... fast. I don't know where you get the idea that only USB-C will give you fast charging.
  • I seriously made an account just to say that i hate you. I wanted to buy the old keyboard last year, i'm from Romania and guess what...
  • Amazingly for a Microsoft product, this one comes with rechargeable batteries instead of AA slots and separate actual batteries and cables, and yet they manage to impress us somehow; no backlit, no usb c Lol I'd rather end it there
  • That's a pretty nice keyboard. I'll buy one. Oh wait, it's only available in half a dozen markets out of 195 in the world.
    Nevermind.
  • If this (or any other new MS keyboard) was available in Serbia I would get it without a doubt. Unfortunately, the exYU layout is missing even tho it's used in 5 countries.
  • that is microsoft.
  • So MSFT makes accessory hardware on their own, has Surface, HoloLens hardware and Nokia patents aside.
  • I've got the older Surface Keyboard, and love it except no backlighting!!! MUST have. Renders this unusable in low light????
  • I wonder what this thing is for back lighting all of a sudden? don't get me wrong, I like it, my own keyboard is an RGB thing, but I only have it set on one colour and it makes a difference in low light. But I wonder how we managed years ago?
    Non of the keyboards at work are back lit, in fact some of them the characters on the keys are missing.
  • I wish they made this keyboard, but with exactly the same keys and travel etc. as the Surface Book - best keyboard ever!!! AND backlit.
  • Be nice to get one without the numpad. I know some people like them, but it takes up too much space and is unnecessary.
  • This Corsair keyboard i am using now don't have a num pad and the only time I miss it is with blender and I sorted that out. The tray my keyboard sits on is not that big, which is strange, so to get a mouse on as well I needed a 10 keyless one.
  • "the Modern Keyboard doesn't come with a removable battery. But that's a good thing, because it's more eco and you don't have to keep buying or recharging external batteries."
    sorry. that is not a good thing. never was a good thing. it will never be a good thing. a removable battery is always better no matter what. how does it being removable effect recharging? it has nothing to do with that. you are trying to make something bad sound good and that is wrong.
  • No USB-C for power, no USB-A for a mouse transceiver, no USB-C out to charge a phone. Overpriced. Epic fail.
  • No Thanks!!! OMG, $130.....Really....I will stick with my $30 wireless keyboard and Kinect 2!! At this price it should be a "Surface Keyboard" lol. WOW! Maybe I'm wrong a surface keyboard may be $200. STUPID!!
  • I have this keyboard for last one month. It works fine when connected with the USB cord, windows Hello works flawlessly but when I connect it wirelessly only the fingerprint ID does not work, every thing else works fine. I can't sign-in using fingerprint scanner, am I missing something?