Windows 8 Mixes Personal Pictures And Custom Gestures For Log In Passwords

Brad Chacos

We won’t delve too far into it again – why beat a dead horse? – but research has proven that most people’s passwords suck , plain and simple. Sophisticated geeks may shrug their shoulders and simply laugh at the newbs, but it’s in Microsoft’s interest to build a secure operating system – hence the whole Secure Boot thing. The company’s taking an interesting approach to passwords in the upcoming Windows 8, one that mixes personal pictures and touch/mouse gestures to create a log in experience that Microsoft claims is both faster and more secure than traditional alphanumeric passwords.

It all starts with a picture; any picture stored on your device, in fact. After you select a picture, you then use touch or mouse gestures (depending on which flavor of hardware you’re rolling with) to highlight parts of the image with circles, lines and taps. In the example shown above and on the blog post unveiling the scheme , the user circled the Dad’s head, tapped the mom's nose and drew a line between the sisters’ schnozzes. After being set, that series of gestures – including their drawn-in direction and starting and end points – becomes the new password for your account. (Presumably a traditional alphanumeric version should still be included.)

We can already hear you screaming “BUT THE SMUDGES WILL GIVE IT AWAY!” Cool down, cool down. Microsoft says the fact that direction and start/end points counts still make it more secure than a standard PIN code, and program manager Zach Pace even uses a bunch of math to prove it at the end of his blog post.

So, what do you think of the new password scheme? Is it novel or stupid? Are you, like me, worried that your sloppy fingers might lock you out of your PC after a night at the pub?

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