How Windows Hello for Business works in Windows Devices

Applies to

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 11

Windows Hello for Business is a modern, two-factor credential that is the more secure alternative to passwords. Whether you are cloud or on-premises, Windows Hello for Business has a deployment option for you. For cloud deployments, you can use Windows Hello for Business with Azure Active Directory joined, Hybrid Azure Active Directory joined, or Azure Active Directory registered devices. Windows Hello for Business also works for domain joined devices.

Watch this quick video where Pieter Wigleven gives a simple explanation of how Windows Hello for Business works and some of its supporting features.

Technical Deep Dive

Windows Hello for Business is a distributed system that uses several components to accomplish device registration, provisioning, and authentication. Use this section to gain a better understanding of each of the categories and how they support Windows Hello for Business.

Device Registration

Registration is a fundamental prerequisite for Windows Hello for Business. Without registration, Windows Hello for Business provisioning cannot start. Registration is where the device registers its identity with the identity provider. For cloud and hybrid deployments, the identity provider is Azure Active Directory and the device registers with the Azure Device Registration Service (ADRS). For on-premises deployments, the identity provider is Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), and the device registers with the enterprise device registration service hosted on the federation servers (AD FS).

For more information, read how device registration works.

Provisioning

Provisioning is when the user uses one form of authentication to request a new Windows Hello for Business credential. Typically the user signs in to Windows using user name and password. The provisioning flow requires a second factor of authentication before it will create a strong, two-factor Windows Hello for Business credential.

Watch Matthew Palko and Ravi Vennapusa explain how Windows Hello for Business provisioning works.

For more information, read how provisioning works.

Authentication

With the device registered and provisioning complete, users can sign-in to Windows using biometrics or a PIN. PIN is the most common gesture and is available on all computers unless restricted by policy requiring a TPM. Regardless of the gesture used, authentication occurs using the private portion of the Windows Hello for Business credential. Neither the PIN nor the private portion of the credential are ever sent to the identity provider, and the PIN is not stored on the device. It is user provided entropy when performing operations that use the private portion of the credential.

Watch Matthew Palko and Ravi Vennapusa explain how Windows Hello for Business authentication works.

For more information read how authentication works.