Microsoft's plug-and-play biometrics

The software giant signs a deal with AuthenTec, a maker of fingerprint-recognition sensors, to integrate software support for biometrics into the Windows operating system.

Robert Lemos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Robert Lemos
covers viruses, worms and other security threats.
Robert Lemos
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AuthenTec, a maker of fingerprint-recognition sensors, announced on Monday that it had signed a deal with Microsoft to integrate software support for biometrics into the Windows operating system.

AuthenTec will create a reference driver that will be the example for other biometric hardware makers to follow in designing their own driver software. In addition, a new application programming interface (API) will allow software to access new hardware features made available through the drivers, said Michael Stephenson, lead product manager for Microsoft's Windows server group.

"We can now make (biometrics) plug-and-play compatible," Stephenson said. "Once the device is plugged in, it will automatically load the driver."

Although fingerprint-recognition security packages are currently available for Microsoft Windows, integrating the common software into the operating system will make such solutions easier to install and offer more features for customers, Stephenson said.

"Our goal is to make it as easy as possible and as secure as possible for our customer to implement this solution," Stephenson said.

Biometrics include any technology for identifying people by physical characteristics. Fingerprint, facial-feature, retina and handprint recognition are all common forms of biometric technology, but for PC sign-on applications, fingerprint recognition is by far the most popular.

AuthenTec will work with Microsoft to develop a driver that will be shipped with the Device Driver Kit (DDK) to other hardware makers as an example of how to code the driver.

"This collaborative effort will accelerate the acceptance and application of biometrics in computing," Scott Moody, president and CEO of AuthenTec, said in a statement.