What you need to know
- Microsoft is working on native support for passkeys on Windows 11.
- A recent build of Windows 11 added the ability to sign into websites that work with passkeys by using Windows Hello
- Windows 11 will also let you manage saved passkeys through the Settings app.
When Microsoft announced Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23486, the company shared two important pieces of information. First, Microsoft said that it would backtrack on its plans to remove a set of legacy File Explorer features. Second, the tech giant confirmed plans to improve the passkey experience for Windows users.
While enthusiasts were passionate about the File Explorer features, the passkey features will affect more general users.
Starting with that build of Windows 11, users can log into websites that support passkeys by using Windows Hello. Additionally, users can manage their passkeys on saved Windows devices, including deleting passkeys through the Windows Settings app.
Passkeys are part of Microsoft's plan to shift away from passwords. They're more secure than passwords and have the backing of several major players in the computing industry.
Microsoft, Apple, Google, and several other large tech companies have agreed to support passkeys. The migration to passkeys over passwords will be gradual but has taken several major steps already. Websites supporting passkeys will help the technology move into the mainstream. Best Buy and eBay are already on board.
Unlike passwords, passkeys cannot be targeted by phishing attacks. In fact, passkeys work in a way that neither the server nor the person logging in know the complete login information. The setup involves digital signatures and verification through a device, such as a smartphone.
While some of the methods that passkeys utilize sound similar to two-factor authentication, there are some key differences. YouTuber Rene Ritchie broke down passkeys in a video last year.
Using passkeys results in more secure accounts that are easier to sign into, but they require websites and tech companies to support the feature. With Microsoft, Apple, and Google backing passkeys, they're likely to become mainstream in the near future.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.