Passwords are annoying, clumsy, easily beaten (for the most part), and an absolutely antiquated form of security. They also happen to be the primary way we secure our most precious information today. Microsoft wants to change that with a new app feature that basically removes passwords from the equation entirely. It’s part of the Microsoft Authenticator app, and it just might work.
The app’s new ability essentially enables the second layer of a two-factor authentication system, but instead of signing in with a password and then confirming your identity via an app prompt on your smartphone, the password isn’t used at all.
Once you have Microsoft Authenticator installed, you can opt to use it as the primary sign-in option for any of the supported logins. Then, when you need to sign in, an app alert will pop up on your phone asking you to approve the action. Tap to approve and that’s it, you’re in, password free.
The new feature is clearly a response to the newly streamlined Google Authenticator app which makes signing in easier thanks to a tap-to-verify system. However, by eliminating passwords entirely, Microsoft is actually making the barrier to logins even shorter, for better or worse. The “worse” part, of course, is that by taking passwords out of the picture, logins can be completely simply by possessing a person’s smartphone, rather than a combination of the password and secondary authentication system. Using the new Authenticator feature should still be significantly more secure than using a password alone, so it’s still a net improvement over what most users currently rely on.