Windows 11's Upcoming Passkey (Windows Hello) Features: A Deep Dive
In our latest exploration of Windows 11, we’ve detailed its new passkey features and what else is to expect. With an improved user dialog and the introduction of a Passkey Management UI, Microsoft continues to emphasize digital security. Our analysis sheds light on what developers and product managers need to know.
As advocates for passkey, we delve today into Microsoft’s newest strides within the passkey realm (login via Windows Hello instead of passwords). Microsoft, an influential member of the FIDO alliance – the backbone behind the passkey and WebAuthn standards – has long promised bolstered support for passkeys (besides their already available offering for many of their services like GitHub, Microsoft 365 or LinkedIn). Their recent Windows 11 developer preview gave us a chance to explore these claims in detail, and today, we're here to share these insights with you.
New Passkey Creation Experience
Using Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23486, we encountered a refreshed user dialogue upon passkey creation. The prompt efficiently notifies users when a passkey is stored. Moreover, it highlights essential details, displaying the user ID (e.g., Vincentfirstname.lastname@example.org) alongside the relying party ID (e.g., passkeys.eu).
Windows 11 Passkey Management UI: A User-Friendly Evolution
The challenge of managing passkeys on Windows machines is set to change. Previously, users resorted to external browsers like Google Chrome for passkey management tasks with a GUI, be it deletion or a simple overview of saved passkeys. Thankfully, the new Windows 11 preview comes with a user-friendly solution with its integrated passkey manager.
For those eager to try, here's how to delete a passkey (see also our detailed deletion guide):
1. Navigate to: Settings > Accounts > Passkeys and look for the website corresponding to the passkey.
2. Hit the three-dot menu of your chosen entry and select "Delete passkey."
3. A confirmation prompt will appear. Click "Delete" to finalize.
Windows Hello Synced Passkeys: The Awaited Feature
While our exploration was insightful, one area remained untested: the synchronization of passkeys across (Windows) devices. The passkeys we trialed remained exclusive to individual devices (single-device passkeys). It’s still unclear how Microsoft will approach this feature, especially given its successful implementation by Apple and Google in 2022 and further developments in 2023. Especially if a Windows account has Windows Hello already activated (for single-device passkeys), it remains interesting how the synchronization will work.
The Future of Passkeys with Windows 11
The enhancements in Windows 11 are bound to amplify the adoption rate of passkeys, especially in the desktop and corporate domains where Windows remains dominant. As the OS captures more market share and with more individuals investing in new computers, passkeys' prevalence will surge.
Windows Evolution of Passkeys
There's also a buzz around potential synced passkey support on Windows 10. While not universal, its introduction to a broad range of Windows 10 devices could further catalyze user adoption and demand for passkeys. At the moment, per Microsoft lifetime policy, the Windows 10 22H2 version from October 2022 is planned to be the last feature release for Windows 10 followed by two years of security support.
Backporting the synced passkey functionality from Windows 11 to Windows 10 seems to be a rather easy endeavor as insiders tell us. Maybe there will be an out-of-band release enabling synced passkeys (via Windows Hello), enhanced passkey management and Conditional UI before Windows 10’s end of life in October 2025.
Still, the biggest question is when Windows Hello Sync will be introduced by Microsoft in general connecting created local passkeys with the cloud and making them truly cross-device like Apple (via iCloud Keychain) and Google (via Google Password Manager) did. At the moment, there is no hint within the official documentation, release notes or in the Microsoft Account when this might happen.
Enjoyed this read?
Stay up to date with the latest news, strategies and insights about passkeys sent straight to your inbox!