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Say Hello to Windows 10 This Summer and Goodbye to Passwords

Microsoft has put Windows 10 on the fast track saying in an unexpected announcement the new OS will arrive this summer. That's a surprise escalation in expectations from the fall timeline targeted by Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner back in December.

The company announced the unexpected earlier delivery date at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), taking place in Shenzhen, China this week. Also at WinHEC, as reported yesterday, Microsoft revealed that the release of Windows 10 will aim at transitioning users away from passwords to login to their systems and instead will offer Microsoft's new biometric authentication tool called Windows Hello.

While it wasn't initially clear to what extent the Windows Hello technology would be supported in Windows 10, Terry Myerson, executive vice president for the Windows platform group at Microsoft said at WinHEC and in a blog post that all OEMs have agreed to support it.

Windows 10 will be available in 190 countries and 111 languages when it launches, according to Myerson. Obviously that's a wide window given it can arrive anytime between June 21 and Sept. 20. But the expedited release may suggest that Microsoft doesn't want to miss this year's back-to-school season, a time many students buy new systems. If that's the case, it will need to come in June or July, rather than late September.

The big question an earlier-than-expected release raises: is Microsoft looking to rush Windows 10 out the door too soon and will it come out feature-complete?  Meanwhile, there are many new features testers have yet to see, such as the new browser component called Spartan and yesterday's reveal: Windows Hello. Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president for Microsoft's operating systems group unveiled Windows Hello at WinHEC, which he said provides system-level support for biometric authentication, including fingerprint and facial recognition as a replacement for passwords.

Hello isn't the first effort to bring biometrics to Windows PCs. Makers of PCs have offered fingerprint scanners on a small selection of their PCs for years now. But few used them and most devices today have done away with them. This time, it looks like Microsoft is aiming for biometrics that will be pervasive in Windows 10 devices. "We're working closely with our hardware partners to deliver Windows Hello-capable devices that will ship with Windows 10," Myerson said. "We are thrilled that all OEM systems incorporating the Intel RealSense F200 sensor will fully support Windows Hello, including automatic sign-in to Windows."

Myerson said Microsoft is also offering a new version of Windows for smaller Internet of Things devices ranging from ATM machines to medical equipment thanks to partnerships with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Intel, Qualcomm and others. Microsoft also unveiled Qualcomm's DragonBoard 410C for Windows 10 devices. It includes the first Windows 10 developer board that's integrated with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, along with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/18/2015 at 12:55 PM


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