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Security & privacy

No more passwords? Microsoft says you can ditch yours and use one of these secure methods instead

Writing down passwords somewhere is always a bad idea. But what do you do when you have exhausted all your letter-number combinations? Some people use a password manager that can create and store login details. Tap or click here for inspiration in creating strong passwords.

You might not believe it, but some people are still using things like password123 to try and protect their accounts. Not good! Some researchers have argued that a good password is about 12 characters long.

But surely there must be a better solution? That is precisely what Microsoft has been trying to fix. If everything goes according to plan, passwords could soon be a thing of the past.

Here’s the backstory

You will undoubtedly be asked to create an account with a username and password to sign in to an app or sign up for a service. Those are more details that you need to remember.

As services evolve, many allow you to sign in with a Google or Facebook account. But Microsoft is at the forefront of what it calls a “passwordless future.” While you can’t use its technology to log in to Twitter, the company has made it available to anyone who uses a Windows-based computer.

Instead of unlocking your PC or Microsoft account with the usual email and password, Microsoft will give you the option to kill the process altogether. But that doesn’t mean it is removing verification steps. On the contrary, removing the traditional sign-in method is making logging in more secure.

Opting to remove password verification, you can confirm your identity through several other means. These will include:

  • Using the Microsoft Authenticator app
  • Signing in with Windows Hello
  • Special security key
  • Verification code sent to your phone or email

The added functionality isn’t limited to computers, but all Microsoft services like Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft Family Safety.

Microsoft introduced passwordless sign-in for commercial users in March this year but is rolling out the option to everyone now. If you don’t see the option immediately, it can take a few weeks to reach your device.

Alternatives to passwords

The first step to going passwordless is to download the Microsoft Authenticator app. Sign in to the app with your Microsoft details and link your account. Get the app for iOS here. Or download it for Android here.

Then you must go to your Microsoft account in a browser and turn on Passwordless Account. To do this, sign in and choose Advanced Security Options. Under Additional Security Options, you’ll see Passwordless Account. Select Turn on.

From there, you must follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process. You should receive a notification on the Authenticator app. Once that is approved, you’ll be all set. Microsoft said that you can always restore passwords at any point.

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