There has been lots of chatter of late about Microsoft doing away with passwords moving forward. It appears as though that this will eventually be another case of where there is smoke there is fire.
Passwords have long had the distinct advantage of keeping intruders locked out of a user account. You could make the case, however, that something even more important is always being able to get access to your accounts so you can use them.
It’s the latter that appears to be on Microsoft’s mind lately, with this news of leaning toward advancing Windows 10 to becoming an operating system that is no longer in need of having passwords to keep user accounts safe.
Microsoft has already been making the shift from passwords to a passwordless platform for some time. It considers Windows Hello—Microsoft’s state of the art sign in options where you can sign in with just a fingerprint or scan of the face—as a passwordless tool. One of the newest advancements toward total freedom from passwords is, starting from Windows 10 built 1903, there being a streamlined Windows Hello PIN recovery above the lock screen.
Now Microsoft’s latest measures include adding a passwordless phone number Microsoft account to the Windows operating system, as well as offering the new Microsoft Authenticator app from the Microsoft Store that all users can download for free.
Phone numbers have long been used to help secure social media accounts, and they’ve been invaluable for platforms such as Twitter for keeping spammers and robots from creating fake user accounts. However, the dependency of phone numbers means people need to pay for having active SIM cards on their mobile phones, which means continually relying on phone numbers to use computers will eventually become an expense many could do without.
While it may seem like Microsoft’s willingness to assume people using phone numbers is related to the statistics that now very few people don’t have them, in recent times people have started to realize they can use features such as WiFi calling—which does not require a SIM card—for phone calls. As more and more calls are done with internet connections rather than traditional cellular towers and phone contracts, the use of a phone number, in its traditional sense, could soon be on the decline. If that happens, there could be more people who are unhappy about passwordless platforms than companies like Microsoft expected.
We guess that even if Microsoft does pursue passwordless platforms moving forward, the option to continue using passwords will still exist, so like the reasons just mentioned, people won’t be forced into spending any additional money or to have things they don’t want in order for them to be able to use an operating system. Users of social media, on the other hand, aren’t likely to be so lucky. If you were to get up to what Twitter calls “suspicious activity” even today, you would be locked out of your account for good or until you can assign a phone number to it.