Windows 2000 to support biometrics
- By John Fontana
- Jan 01, 1990
Looking to add new security features to its operating system, Microsoft
Corp. has licensed biometric technology to integrate into future versions
of Windows 2000.
The software giant on Tuesday licensed I/O Software Inc.'s Biometric Application
Program Interface (BAPI) and the biometrics authentication software found
in its SecureSuite products.
Microsoft intends to include the technology in the next version of Windows
2000 as an alternative authentication mechanism to standard passwords. Biometrics
uses a person's physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, retinal
pattern or voice, to authenticate use of a desktop or server.
The authentication mechanism, though highly secure, is not widely used because
of a lack of standard interfaces. Biometrics also requires hardware to perform
the scan and software to match the scan to stored data.
For the Windows platform, BAPI will provide a "standard" software protocol
and API for communication between software applications and biometric devices.
BAPI, developed in 1998 by I/O Software, includes several hardware interfaces,
encryption and biometric algorithms. SecureSuite will add the software to
support log on, capture and storage of biometric data and user interfaces.
The BAPI protocol is not a recognized industry standard, but I/O Software and now Microsoft are hoping it becomes a unifying force in an industry
that is fragmented by incompatible hardware and software.
"To date, biometrics has been called a zero billion-dollar industry," said
Tas Dienes, vice president and co-founder of I/O Software. "No one is buying
anything, [and] there is no universal standard, but now with Microsoft making
the first move, we think a lot of people will follow. Obviously, this is
good for us, but it also is a shot in the arm for the whole industry."
I/O Software, a private, 25-person, Riverside, Calif., company, says BAPI
can be used to support applications such as e-commerce, financial transactions,
e-mail encryption and digital signatures, file and database encryption,
and smart cards.
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