Swipe your fingers to unlock your Windows® 8 desktop
Signing in with aÂ Windows Live IDÂ isn't the only new way to login that will be available in Windows 8. With Windows 8's focus on being touch capable, comes a whole new way of logging into your system that doesn't involve a password at all; and can still be more secure, easier to use and remember.
Passwords are a thing of the past
How can you have a login system that doesn't use a password, but is still secure?
It is important to remember what a password is for anyway. It is a secret shared between you and your computer, as a way to authenticate who you are. It has been possible to log into Windows Vista, and before using biometric means such as fingerprint recognition and facial recognition, if the proper hardware and software are installed.
However, fingers are all too easy to break off, and documentaries such as Face/Off and The Silence of the Lambs have shown that it is all too easy to have your face ripped off and co-opted by a terrorist or psychotic killer. On the other hand, you will probably not be as concerned about the security of your data while lying faceless in a ditch somewhere. The security of iris recognition is likewise debunked by the entirely factual Minority Report.
Microsoft has gone another way. Their system involves a different kind of shared secret between the computer and you. A secret based on gestures rather than letters, numbers, and symbols. The only hardware you need is a touchscreen.
Type no more just gesture
Touchscreens aren't very friendly to password entry. Entering symbols, particularly, can be taxing, and can make one regret picking a strong password.Â What can you perform easily on touchscreens? Gestures. To log into your system, you will need to perform a series of three gestures.Â The gestures themselves are of three kinds. A tap, simply touching some point on the screen; a circle, drawing a circle somewhere on the screen; and a line, moving your finger across the screen from one point to another.
Each of these three gestures could be a tap, a line or a circle, and the order matters as well. You could, for example, just tap the screen on three different places, or you could have a combination of a tap and two lines or any other combination really. The order of these gestures is important, and so is the location on the screen.
You might be wondering, how it will be easier for you to remember a bunch of gestures, rather than a bunch of symbols. At least you can write down a password or try to memorize it by repeating it to yourself in your mind. If you perform vague gestures on random objects, people will think you are crazy, and you will be fired from your job, and you will be living on the street, and you won’t even have a tablet and who will buy Windows 9 then?
A picture is worth 30 characters
The answer is simple, you will be performing these gestures on a photo of your choice. So, the gestures won't be random, nor on a blank slate. They could be meaningful gestures that are associated closely with the picture you used.Â So it can be any picture and any combination of three gestures, both combined, authenticate your identity to the computer better than any textual password.Â Of course, if you are picking a picture, the one trying to break into your account could guess the gestures based on important areas in the image, such as peoples' faces and… other parts.
Even so, the system is reasonably secure. If we forget about the picture for once, there are thousands of areas where you could have tapped. For a circle, both the location and the size matter; and the most complex of them all, the line, has three factors – the starting point, the ending point, and the direction of the line matter.Â Of course, you can just pick the picture of your favorite actor or actress and perform a gesture so lewd, no hacker would attempt to repeat it.
In the end, while gesture-based passwords are reasonably secure, the main aim is convenience and speed of logging in. In that they can excel. In fact, if you perform the wrong gesture five times, you will be locked out, and will have to use an alternative text password. So this doesn't replace your traditional text password, just augments it.Â You need not even have a touchscreen to use the feature actually, you can perform gestures using your mouse. This might be a tad bit less convenient, but it is even more secure since you don't leave gesture marks on the screen.
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