Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will launch in "summer" this year.
The news emerged from an event in China, so it seems safe to assume Redmond means the northern hemisphere's summer between June and August.
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Executive veep for Windows Terry Myerson says Windows 10 "will launch in 190 countries and 111 languages".
We're in the dark on whether Microsoft measures seasons with equinoxes or solstices as the mid-point, by picking the three warmest and sunniest months and calling them summer or another arbitrary measure. We mention that omission because some European nations consider summer runs for about four months, from May to August.
At a guess, Microsoft would like a launch no later than early August, the better to target back-to-school PC buyers in the northern hemisphere.
Those buyers will get to use Windows 10's biometrics features, which Redmond has decided need a bit more explanation.
Microsoft's named the new logon arrangements for Windows 10 “Hello” and says it will greet users with the chance to use their face, iris or fingerprint as biometric authentication options. Hello will work alongside “Passport”, a single-sign-on scheme that logs users on to web services and, thanks to integration with Azure Active Directory, enterprise applications. Microsoft says it's made the work it put into Passport into the FIDO Alliance's broadly-supported death-to-passwords effort.
Microsoft says it has used asymmetric key cryptography to secure Passport and enhanced facial recognition techniques using infrared imaging, among other tricks, to improve biometric authentication so that someone in possession of a detailed photo could not successfully fool Hello.
It doesn't look like every device will be able to use Hello: Microsoft says “all OEM systems incorporating the Intel RealSense 3D Camera (F200)” will be good for facial and iris authentication. RealSense is Intel's depth-sensing camera tech, so if Hello needs that to identify users there's going to be rather a lot of devices that give users the finger as the sole biometric authentication offering. And even that will need a dedicated sensor.
Microsoft's post about Windows 10's biometric bits doesn't say if on-premises Active Directory can be Passport-enabled. We've asked, but are yet to receive a reply, because if Passport requires the cloudy directory that will be a barrier to many organisations who are currently happy with their on-premises directories, or leery of signing up for subscription services. We're also concerned that Microsoft might just be herding users to the cloud by making it plain that if one does not go Azure, one misses out on Windows 10's best bits.
On a busy day for Microsoft, it also announced its Band not-quite-a-smartwatch is now available for pre-order in the UK, at £169.99. If you wait until April 15th, you'll be able to get your wrist on one at Curry’s PC World, Dixons Travel, Harrods, and O2, or online at Amazon.
The move to offer Band in retailers is also happening in the USA, where until now it's only been possible to get a Microsoft wristjob in Microsoft stores. ®