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Hands on with Windows 10's Windows Hello: It just works

Mark Hachman | July 29, 2015
Windows 10's facial-recognition technology, Windows Hello, has been the great white whale of Microsoft's new operating system: Microsoft has demonstrated it, but rarely has anyone been able to see it in the wild.

After that, though, it's a breeze. Microsoft will show you what the depth camera sees, and asks you to lean in so that your face fills the frame. If you're seated at your laptop with the screen tilted at a normal angle, this will probably happen naturally. You also have the option to "improve recognition" by letting Hello see your face with your glasses on or off, for example. And that's it.

When you log off your PC (Win+L), Hello begins looking for you, keeping an eye out while the screen is active. All I needed to do was sit down at my PC; Hello recognized me flawlessly and put me right back on my Windows 10 desktop. If you have multiple users with accounts on a single PC, Hello will log that user in, regardless of who was using the PC last. The smiley-face icon may even give you a cheeky wink when it does so.

Hello feels exceptionally natural; I just sit down and I'm logged in. About the only time I've had to make allowances for it have been when the laptop has been set to the side, with a larger desktop monitor set in front of me. I've then had to swivel my chair and look directly at my laptop. (First world problems, right?)

There are some quirks. You have the option of requiring Hello to force you to turn your head slightly from side to side, so that Hello can see more of your head. That won't be a necessity unless you have a twin, I'd say, who looks just like you. As for security, I tried snapping a high-def selfie, then holding the phone in front of the Hello camera. That didn't work. 

Hello works only when it can see your entire face--sorry, ninjas--but it appears that it doesn't need to see your hairline or skull. I assume it would work just fine with a woman wearing a head covering, and perhaps even a wig. But I can only speak for myself; I haven't tested Hello against a variety of faces.

Those who are privacy-conscious should know that Hello's camera will keep looking for you while the screen is active, Microsoft says. If that concerns you, set your screen to turn off quickly, or just disable Hello.

 

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