Windows Hello for Business Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Applies to: Windows 10

What is Windows Hello for Business cloud trust?

Windows Hello for Business cloud trust is a new trust model that is currently in preview. This trust model will enable Windows Hello for Business deployment using the infrastructure introduced for supporting security key sign-in on Hybrid Azure AD joined devices and on-premises resource access on Azure AD Joined devices. Cloud trust is the preferred deployment model if you do not need to support certificate authentication scenarios. For more information, see Hybrid Cloud Trust Deployment (Preview).

What about virtual smart cards?

Windows Hello for Business is the modern, two-factor credential for Windows 10. Microsoft will be deprecating virtual smart cards in the future, but no date is set at this time. Customers using Windows 10 and virtual smart cards should move to Windows Hello for Business. Microsoft will publish the date early to ensure customers have adequate lead time to move to Windows Hello for Business. Microsoft recommends that new Windows 10 deployments use Windows Hello for Business. Virtual smart cards remain supported for Windows 7 and Windows 8.

What about convenience PIN?

Microsoft is committed to its vision of a world without passwords. We recognize the convenience provided by convenience PIN, but it stills uses a password for authentication. Microsoft recommends that customers using Windows 10 and convenience PINs should move to Windows Hello for Business. New Windows 10 deployments should deploy Windows Hello for Business and not convenience PINs. Microsoft will be deprecating convenience PINs in the future and will publish the date early to ensure customers have adequate lead time to deploy Windows Hello for Business.

Can I use Windows Hello for Business key trust and RDP?

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) doesn't currently support using key-based authentication and self-signed certificates as supplied credentials. However, you can deploy certificates in the key trust model to enable RDP. For more information, see Deploying certificates to key trust users to enable RDP. In addition, Windows Hello for Business key trust can be also used with RDP with Windows Defender Remote Credential Guard without deploying certificates.

Can I deploy Windows Hello for Business by using Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager?

Windows Hello for Business deployments using Configuration Manager should follow the hybrid deployment model that uses Active Directory Federation Services. Starting in Configuration Manager version 1910, certificate-based authentication with Windows Hello for Business settings isn't supported. Key-based authentication is still valid with Configuration Manager. For more information, see Windows Hello for Business settings in Configuration Manager.

Can I deploy Windows Hello for Business by using Microsoft Endpoint Manager Intune?

Windows Hello for Business deployments using Intune allow for a great deal of flexibility in deployment. For more information, see Integrate Windows Hello for Business with Microsoft Intune.

How many users can enroll for Windows Hello for Business on a single Windows 10 computer?

The maximum number of supported enrollments on a single Windows 10 computer is 10. This lets 10 users each enroll their face and up to 10 fingerprints. For devices with more than 10 users, we strongly encourage the use of FIDO2 security keys.

How can a PIN be more secure than a password?

The Windows Hello for Business PIN isn't a symmetric key, whereas a password is a symmetric key. With passwords, there's a server that has some representation of the password. With Windows Hello for Business, the PIN is user-provided entropy used to load the private key in the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). The server doesn't have a copy of the PIN. For that matter, the Windows client doesn't have a copy of the current PIN either. The user must provide the entropy, the TPM-protected key, and the TPM that generated that key in order to successfully access the private key.

The statement "PIN is stronger than Password" isn't directed at the strength of the entropy used by the PIN. It's about the difference between providing entropy versus continuing the use of a symmetric key (the password). The TPM has anti-hammering features that thwart brute-force PIN attacks (an attacker's continuous attempt to try all combination of PINs). Some organizations may worry about shoulder surfing. For those organizations, rather than increase the complexity of the PIN, implement the Multi-factor Unlock feature.

How does Windows Hello for Business work with Azure AD registered devices?

A user will be prompted to set-up a Windows Hello for Business key on an Azure AD registered devices if the feature is enabled by policy. If the user has an existing Windows Hello container, the Windows Hello for Business key will be enrolled in that container and will be protected using their exiting gestures.

If a user has signed into their Azure AD registered device with Windows Hello, their Windows Hello for Business key will be used to authenticate the user's work identity when they try to use Azure AD resources. The Windows Hello for Business key meets Azure AD multi-factor authentication (MFA) requirements and reduces the number of MFA prompts users will see when accessing resources.

It's possible to Azure AD register a domain joined device. If the domain joined device has a convenience PIN, sign in with the convenience PIN will no longer work. This configuration isn't supported by Windows Hello for Business.

For more information, please read Azure AD registered devices.

I have Windows Server 2016 domain controller(s), so why is the Key Admins group missing?

The Key Admins and Enterprise Key Admins groups are created when you install the first Windows Server 2016 domain controller into a domain. Domain controllers running previous versions of Windows Server can't translate the security identifier (SID) to a name. To resolve this issue, transfer the PDC emulator domain role to a domain controller running Windows Server 2016.

Can I use a convenience PIN with Azure Active Directory?

It's currently possible to set a convenience PIN on Azure Active Directory Joined or Hybrid Active Directory Joined devices. Convenience PIN isn't supported for Azure Active Directory user accounts (synchronized identities included). It's only supported for on-premises Domain Joined users and local account users.

Can I use an external Windows Hello compatible camera when my computer has a built in Windows Hello compatible camera?

Yes. Starting with Windows 10, version 21H1 an external Windows Hello compatible camera can be used if a device already supports an internal Windows Hello camera. When both cameras are present, the external camera is used for face authentication. For more information, see IT tools to support Windows 10, version 21H1. However, using external Hello cameras and accessories is restricted if ESS is enabled, please see Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security.

Can I use an external Windows Hello compatible camera or other Windows Hello compatible accessory when my laptop lid is closed or docked?

Some laptops and tablets with keyboards that close may not use an external Windows Hello compatible camera or other Windows Hello compatible accessory when the computer is docked with the lid closed. The issue has been addressed in the latest Windows Insiders builds and will be available in the future version of Windows 11.

Why does authentication fail immediately after provisioning hybrid key trust?

In a hybrid deployment, a user's public key must sync from Azure AD to AD before it can be used to authenticate against a domain controller. This sync is handled by Azure AD Connect and will occur during a normal sync cycle.

What is the password-less strategy?

Watch Principal Program Manager Karanbir Singh's Microsoft's guide for going password-less Ignite 2017 presentation.

Microsoft's password-less strategy

What is the user experience for Windows Hello for Business?

The user experience for Windows Hello for Business occurs after the user signs in, after you deploy Windows Hello for Business policy settings to your environment.

Windows Hello for Business user enrollment experience

What happens when a user forgets their PIN?

If the user can sign in with a password, they can reset their PIN by selecting the "I forgot my PIN" link in Settings. Beginning with Windows 10 1709, users can reset their PIN above the lock screen by selecting the "I forgot my PIN" link on the PIN credential provider.

Windows Hello for Business forgotten PIN user experience

For on-premises deployments, devices must be well-connected to their on-premises network (domain controllers and/or certificate authority) to reset their PINs. Hybrid customers can onboard their Azure tenant to use the Windows Hello for Business PIN reset service to reset their PINs. Non-destructive PIN reset works without access to the corporate network. Destructive PIN reset requires access to the corporate network. For more details about destructive and non-destructive PIN reset, see PIN reset.

What URLs do I need to allow for a hybrid deployment?

Communicating with Azure Active Directory uses the following URLs:

  • enterpriseregistration.windows.net
  • login.microsoftonline.com
  • login.windows.net
  • account.live.com
  • accountalt.azureedge.net
  • secure.aadcdn.microsoftonline-p.com

If your environment uses Microsoft Intune, you will also need these other URLs:

  • enrollment.manage.microsoft.com
  • portal.manage.microsoft.com

What's the difference between non-destructive and destructive PIN reset?

Windows Hello for Business has two types of PIN reset: non-destructive and destructive. Organizations running Windows 10 Enterprise and Azure Active Directory can take advantage of the Microsoft PIN Reset service. Once on-boarded to a tenant and deployed to computers, users who have forgotten their PINs can authenticate to Azure, provide a second factor of authentication, and reset their PIN without reprovisioning a new Windows Hello for Business enrollment. This flow is a non-destructive PIN reset because the user doesn't delete the current credential and obtain a new one. For more information, see PIN Reset.

Organizations that have the on-premises deployment of Windows Hello for Business, or those not using Windows 10 Enterprise can use destructive PIN reset. With destructive PIN reset, users that have forgotten their PIN can authenticate by using their password and then performing a second factor of authentication to reprovision their Windows Hello for Business credential. Reprovisioning deletes the old credential and requests a new credential and certificate. On-premises deployments need network connectivity to their domain controllers, Active Directory Federation Services, and their issuing certificate authority to perform a destructive PIN reset. For hybrid deployments, destructive PIN reset is only supported with the certificate trust model and the latest updates to Active Directory Federation Services.

Which is better or more secure, key trust or certificate trust?

The trust models of your deployment determine how you authenticate to Active Directory (on-premises). Both key trust and certificate trust use the same hardware-backed, two-factor credential. The differences between the two trust types are:

  • Required domain controllers
  • Issuing end entity certificates

The key trust model authenticates to Active Directory by using a raw key. Windows Server 2016 domain controllers enable this authentication. Key trust authenticate doesn't require an enterprise issued certificate, therefore you don't need to issue certificates to users (domain controller certificates are still needed).

The certificate trust model authenticates to Active Directory by using a certificate. Because this authentication uses a certificate, domain controllers running previous versions of Windows Server can authenticate the user. Therefore, you need to issue certificates to users, but you don't need Windows Server 2016 domain controllers. The certificate used in certificate trust uses the TPM-protected private key to request a certificate from your enterprise's issuing certificate authority.

Do I need Windows Server 2016 domain controllers?

There are many deployment options from which to choose. Some of those options require an adequate number of Windows Server 2016 domain controllers in the site where you've deployed Windows Hello for Business. There are other deployment options that use existing Windows Server 2008 R2 or later domain controllers. Choose the deployment option that best suits your environment.

What attributes are synchronized by Azure AD Connect with Windows Hello for Business?

Review Azure AD Connect sync: Attributes synchronized to Azure Active Directory for a list of attributes that sync based on scenarios. The base scenarios that include Windows Hello for Business are the Windows 10 scenario and the Device writeback scenario. Your environment may include other attributes.

Is Windows Hello for Business multi-factor authentication?

Windows Hello for Business is two-factor authentication based on the observed authentication factors of: something you have, something you know, and something that's part of you. Windows Hello for Business incorporates two of these factors: something you have (the user's private key protected by the device's security module) and something you know (your PIN). With the proper hardware, you can enhance the user experience by introducing biometrics. By using biometrics, you can replace the "something you know" authentication factor with the "something that is part of you" factor, with the assurances that users can fall back to the "something you know factor".

What are the biometric requirements for Windows Hello for Business?

Read Windows Hello biometric requirements for more information.

Can I use both a PIN and biometrics to unlock my device?

Starting in Windows 10, version 1709, you can use multi-factor unlock to require users to provide an extra factor to unlock their device. Authentication remains two-factor, but another factor is required before Windows allows the user to reach the desktop. To learn more, see Multifactor Unlock.

Can I wear a mask to enroll or unlock using Windows Hello face authentication?

Wearing a mask to enroll is a security concern because other users wearing a similar mask may be able to unlock your device. The product group is aware of this behavior and is investigating this topic further. Remove a mask if you're wearing one when you enroll or unlock with Windows Hello face authentication. If your working environment doesn’t allow you to remove a mask temporarily, consider unenrolling from face authentication and only using PIN or fingerprint.

What's the difference between Windows Hello and Windows Hello for Business?

Windows Hello represents the biometric framework provided in Windows 10. Windows Hello lets users use biometrics to sign in to their devices by securely storing their user name and password and releasing it for authentication when the user successfully identifies themselves using biometrics. Windows Hello for Business uses asymmetric keys protected by the device's security module that requires a user gesture (PIN or biometrics) to authenticate.

Why can't I enroll biometrics for my local, built-in administrator?

Windows 10 doesn't allow the local administrator to enroll biometric gestures (face or fingerprint).

I have extended Active Directory to Azure Active Directory. Can I use the on-premises deployment model?

No. If your organization is federated or using online services, such as Azure AD Connect, Office 365, or OneDrive, then you must use a hybrid deployment model. On-premises deployments are exclusive to organizations who need more time before moving to the cloud and exclusively use Active Directory.

Does Windows Hello for Business prevent the use of simple PINs?

Yes. Our simple PIN algorithm looks for and disallows any PIN that has a constant delta from one digit to the next. The algorithm counts the number of steps required to reach the next digit, overflowing at 10 ('zero'). So, for example:

  • The PIN 1111 has a constant delta of (0,0,0), so it isn't allowed
  • The PIN 1234 has a constant delta of (1,1,1), so it isn't allowed
  • The PIN 1357 has a constant delta of (2,2,2), so it isn't allowed
  • The PIN 9630 has a constant delta of (7,7,7), so it isn't allowed
  • The PIN 1593 has a constant delta of (4,4,4), so it isn't allowed
  • The PIN 7036 has a constant delta of (3,3,3), so it isn't allowed
  • The PIN 1231 doesn't have a constant delta (1,1,8), so it's allowed
  • The PIN 1872 doesn't have a constant delta (7,9,5), so it's allowed

This check prevents repeating numbers, sequential numbers, and simple patterns. It always results in a list of 100 disallowed PINs (independent of the PIN length). This algorithm doesn't apply to alphanumeric PINs.

How does PIN caching work with Windows Hello for Business?

Windows Hello for Business provides a PIN caching user experience by using a ticketing system. Rather than caching a PIN, processes cache a ticket they can use to request private key operations. Azure AD and Active Directory sign-in keys are cached under lock. This means the keys remain available for use without prompting, as long as the user is interactively signed-in. Microsoft Account sign-in keys are transactional keys, which means the user is always prompted when accessing the key.

Beginning with Windows 10, version 1709, Windows Hello for Business used as a smart card (smart card emulation that is enabled by default) provides the same user experience of default smart card PIN caching. Each process requesting a private key operation will prompt the user for the PIN on first use. Subsequent private key operations won't prompt the user for the PIN.

The smart card emulation feature of Windows Hello for Business verifies the PIN and then discards the PIN in exchange for a ticket. The process doesn't receive the PIN, but rather the ticket that grants them private key operations. Windows 10 doesn't provide any Group Policy settings to adjust this caching.

Can I disable the PIN while using Windows Hello for Business?

No. The movement away from passwords is accomplished by gradually reducing the use of the password. In situations where you can't authenticate by using biometrics, you need a fallback mechanism that isn't a password. The PIN is the fallback mechanism. Disabling or hiding the PIN credential provider will disable the use of biometrics.

How are keys protected?

Wherever possible, Windows Hello for Business takes advantage of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 hardware to generate and protect keys. However, Windows Hello and Windows Hello for Business don't require a TPM. Administrators can choose to allow key operations in software.

Whenever possible, Microsoft strongly recommends the use of TPM hardware. The TPM protects against a variety of known and potential attacks, including PIN brute-force attacks. The TPM provides an additional layer of protection after an account lockout, too. When the TPM has locked the key material, the user will need to reset the PIN (which means they'll need to use MFA to re-authenticate to the IDP before the IDP allows them to re-register).

Can Windows Hello for Business work in air-gapped environments?

Yes. You can use the on-premises Windows Hello for Business deployment and combine it with a third-party MFA provider that doesn't require internet connectivity to achieve an air-gapped Windows Hello for Business deployment.

Can I use third-party authentication providers with Windows Hello for Business?

Yes, if you're using federated hybrid deployment, you can use any third-party that provides an Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) multi-factor authentication adapter. A list of third-party MFA adapters can be found here.

Does Windows Hello for Business work with third-party federation servers?

Windows Hello for Business works with any third-party federation servers that support the protocols used during the provisioning experience.

Protocol Description
[MS-KPP]: Key Provisioning Protocol Specifies the Key Provisioning Protocol, which defines a mechanism for a client to register a set of cryptographic keys on a user and device pair.
[MS-OAPX]: OAuth 2.0 Protocol Extensions Specifies the OAuth 2.0 Protocol Extensions, which are used to extend the OAuth 2.0 Authorization Framework. These extensions enable authorization features such as resource specification, request identifiers, and login hints.
[MS-OAPXBC]: OAuth 2.0 Protocol Extensions for Broker Clients Specifies the OAuth 2.0 Protocol Extensions for Broker Clients, extensions to RFC6749 (the OAuth 2.0 Authorization Framework) that allow a broker client to obtain access tokens on behalf of calling clients.
[MS-OIDCE]: OpenID Connect 1.0 Protocol Extensions Specifies the OpenID Connect 1.0 Protocol Extensions. These extensions define additional claims to carry information about the user, including the user principal name, a locally unique identifier, a time for password expiration, and a URL for password change. These extensions also define additional provider meta-data that enables the discovery of the issuer of access tokens and gives additional information about provider capabilities.

Does Windows Hello for Business work with Mac and Linux clients?

Windows Hello for Business is a feature of Windows 10. At this time, Microsoft isn't developing clients for other platforms. However, Microsoft is open to third-parties who are interested in moving these platforms away from passwords. Interested third-parties can get more information by emailing whfbfeedback@microsoft.com. Windows Hello for Business is a feature of the Windows platform. At this time, Microsoft isn't developing clients for other platforms.

Does Windows Hello for Business work with Azure Active Directory Domain Services (Azure AD DS) clients?

No, Azure AD DS is a separately managed environment in Azure, and hybrid device registration with cloud Azure AD isn't available for it via Azure AD Connect. Hence, Windows Hello for Business doesn't work with Azure AD.