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Windows Hello uses your webcam even if you disabled your camera

Ms. Smith | Aug. 25, 2015
The latest Windows 10 privacy freak out involves Windows Hello accessing your webcam even if you disabled your webcam in privacy settings.

Microsoft does not say those Classic Windows apps can access your camera even if you turned off your camera; in fact, the FAQ states: “If you turn the camera setting off, apps that use the camera won’t have access to it.” In Windows 10, Settings> Privacy > Camera is where you go to control which apps can access your webcam. If “let apps use my camera” is turned on, then it is on by default in apps that “need access to your camera to work as intended.”

If you have the camera enabled, but don’t have any option to “Choose apps that can use your camera” then Microsoft explained “there is already a built-in control in the app. The Camera app only allows apps and services to use the camera each time you request it; for example, a messaging app would use the camera app to take a picture for you to share in an instant message.”

Cortana will wake Windows 10

“Windows Hello” may be used for biometric authentication, but “Hey Cortana” will add additional convenience to using that security feature.

If your PC has an Intel Skylake processor, you will be able to wake Windows with your voice thanks to a “Smart Sound” capability that will be available next year. “Millions” of other computers with Haswell and Broadwell chips are capable of staying in a low-power state known as Intel Ready Mode. At the Intel Developer Forum, Intel announced that both features will allow Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana to awaken your computer.

PC World explained how “wake on voice” will work:

Your PC may be in a standby state, but it will be “awake”—able to run virus scans, download email, and the like, but without needing to be fully powered on. When you say “Hey Cortana,” the system will fully power up and display the lock screen. At that point, you’ll be able to enter your password or PIN—or, if you have Windows Hello enabled—simply sit down at your desk and let your PC recognize you.

The “Hey Cortana” option will not be offered to people with AMD processors or older Intel chips that aren’t “always listening” for “Windows Hello.” Whether you regard that as a blessing or curse is up to you.


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