Windows 11’s new passkey feature lets you talk to the hand (or face) and kiss those annoying passwords goodbye

Windows 11 is now introducing a new feature to the OS, which allows users to replace passwords with passkeys instead.

A recent Windows 11 Insider Preview Build (23486) lets you “use Windows Hello natively to create and sign in to supported applications and websites using passkeys, where you’ll be asked to prove your identity using a PIN, fingerprint, or face scan,” according to The Verge

Basically, this means that if you choose to log in using any of those three methods instead of using a password, two cryptographic keys are created instead. One is stored in your device and the other is stored in your choice of cloud storage service, which combine and grant you access to your device. These keys aren’t known to anyone, including yourself. You would simply use the login method of your choice and it does the rest.

Passkeys could truly be the future 

Though making a sound password with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols is usually an excellent way to safeguard accounts, in recent years identity thieves have gotten much better at cracking passwords. Not to mention that many people don’t apply best practices when it comes to creating passwords.

The concept of passkeys is a great one. Using either a PIN or biometric login method, you have two passkeys created, letting you access your device safely and without having to memorize a complicated string of characters or risk having them discovered by a bad actor. 

What’s also great about them is that you have a nice variety of choices involved in your login method. Some people feel more comfortable using biometric authentication, while others like myself prefer the classic method of using a PIN instead. Regardless, the passkey functions the same way, circumventing a password in the process.

Microsoft Edge, Apple, and Google Chrome have either already supported passkeys or will later in 2023, but this Windows Hello rollout means that people can manage logins on the OS level. However, according to Bleeping Computing, there are still plenty of kinks to work out with this system right now. But hopefully, as tech giants become more accustomed to working with Windows Hello, it will eventually become a seamless feature.

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Windows XP activation has been cracked – for those desperate enough to still use it

The activation algorithm for Windows XP has been cracked, so those stuck not being able to get the ancient operating system working can now do so – and yes, there are folks who still use this OS.

Granted, it’s a seriously slim – vanishingly so – niche of Windows users, and we’ll come back to that. For most of us, though, this is just a curiosity.

As The Register reports, the encryption algorithm for Windows XP product activation has been cracked and reimplemented, with the details provided via a tinyapps blog post.

This means anyone can now generate a valid product key to install and activate Windows XP offline.

Microsoft turned off the servers required to activate Windows XP long ago, so you can’t use a genuine old product key to activate the OS. Well, not online anyway, though from what we can see on Reddit, Microsoft still facilitated a product activation on the phone back in 2020 – and The Register reckons this way still works.


Analysis: Desperate times, desperate measures…

So, if you don’t want to get on the phone and try to persuade Microsoft to activate your Windows XP when you have a genuine product key that can’t be validated online anymore, you can simply do-it-yourself at home (or in the office) with no fuss.

Why would you ever want to use Windows XP, though? Yes, it was a much-loved operating system without a doubt, for many reasons – mainly that it was such a big step forward for performance, and the quality of the interface, over its predecessor – but it’s obviously ridiculously outdated at this point in time.

However, some people must remain on Windows XP due to legacy software or hardware that won’t work with any more modern Microsoft operating system. These are most likely businesses, who might, say, have eye-wateringly expensive machines that only work with software that runs on XP and hasn’t been updated in forever.

In those cases, this crack could prove very useful, but clearly, anyone running Windows XP is exposing themselves to a whole lot of potential pain in terms of the vulnerabilities present in the OS. Which is why if you are in this boat, whatever you do, keep that Windows XP installation offline for obvious reasons.

Are you now wondering how many Windows XP users are still out there? According to the latest from analytics firm Statcounter, XP amounts to a 0.35% userbase out of all Windows versions (not all that far behind Windows 8, Microsoft’s most recently defunct OS which is on 1.28% as of April 2023).

Cracking rusty old Microsoft operating systems appears to be quite the trend at the moment. You may recall that Windows 95’s (relatively flimsy) activation was recently hacked, with a twist – ChatGPT was fooled into generating keys that worked with the OS (in a small number of cases).

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Outlook update will give you more control over those nagging notifications

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be difficult especially as notifications begin to pile up on your smartphone which is why Microsoft is rolling out a new update to its email service.

According to a new post on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, the software giant has updated its email client with new settings that make it easier to manage email notifications on mobile.

These new settings are now rolling out to smartphones running both Android and iOS so that Outlook users can stay on top of the things that matter to them and ignore the ones that don’t.

Upgrading Outlook for hybrid work

In a separate post on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, Microsoft has revealed that it will add working hours and location settings to Outlook later this summer.

Whether you’re still working from home or back at the office as part of your organization’s hybrid work model, you’ll soon be able to add your working hours and location in Outlook. This will allow your co-workers and others to know exactly when they can reach you so that they won’t need to worry about bothering you during your off hours.

While this feature was initially added to the Microsoft 365 roadmap back in December of last year, it will finally become generally available beginning in June of this year.

By allowing users to more easily manage their notifications and let others know where and for how long they plan to work each day, Microsoft is giving workers the tools they need to succeed in a hybrid working world.

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Outlook update will give you more control over those nagging notifications

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be difficult especially as notifications begin to pile up on your smartphone which is why Microsoft is rolling out a new update to its email service.

According to a new post on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, the software giant has updated its email client with new settings that make it easier to manage email notifications on mobile.

These new settings are now rolling out to smartphones running both Android and iOS so that Outlook users can stay on top of the things that matter to them and ignore the ones that don’t.

Upgrading Outlook for hybrid work

In a separate post on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, Microsoft has revealed that it will add working hours and location settings to Outlook later this summer.

Whether you’re still working from home or back at the office as part of your organization’s hybrid work model, you’ll soon be able to add your working hours and location in Outlook. This will allow your co-workers and others to know exactly when they can reach you so that they won’t need to worry about bothering you during your off hours.

While this feature was initially added to the Microsoft 365 roadmap back in December of last year, it will finally become generally available beginning in June of this year.

By allowing users to more easily manage their notifications and let others know where and for how long they plan to work each day, Microsoft is giving workers the tools they need to succeed in a hybrid working world.

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Save 25% on Cyberlink Photo Director and Director Suite to help those video projects

Cyberlink is one of the leaders in video editing apps – from movies to wedding projects, they're a go-to in making sure that there's an easy process in getting the right edits.

PhotoDirector 365 and DirectorSuite 365 are the latest versions in its editing suites for Windows and macOS, where you can pay for a monthly or annual subscription, rivaling it against similar apps such as Adobe Creative Cloud.

With vacations and events opening up in 2022, there's going to be more opportunity to capture some moments on video, which is where Cyberlink's Suites will come in.

This is why the company is offering a discount on both of these apps until the end of April.

Cyberlink Director Suite: $ 129.99/yr $ 96.99/yr direct
Save 25% – This suite combines PowerDirector, PhotoDirector, AudioDirector, and ColorDirector into one, at 25% off the annual price. For example, you can use video editing features of Chroma Key, Keyframing Multicam in PowerDirector, and then use AudioDirector to use the Vocal Balance feature to level out the audio. If you have a project to create, edit and share from start to finish, this suite will do the job in an interface that’s easy to use, for a cheaper annual price.

Cyberlink Photo Director: $ 54.99/yr $ 40.99/yr direct
Save 25% – This is Cyberlink’s photo editing suite for beginners, but with features to make it easy for anyone to edit photos. From deblurring to layer tools, there’s plenty to use. But not only do you get a great editing suite for your photos, but you also gain access to 4,000,000 images from Shutterstock and Getty images to use for those projects.

While many go for Adobe or built-in apps such as iMovie on Apple's macOS operating system, Cyberlink is one of the few in the category where you can create a project from start to finish, and cover every area that you may have not previously considered.

Every project has to have its time to shine, regardless of whether it's a college assignment or your friend's big day for the summer, which is where a suite of apps from Cyberlink should be able to do the job on your Windows 11 laptop.

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Microsoft OneDrive will soon let you take out your frustrations on those hated files

There may soon be a way to cleanse your Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint accounts of pesky large folders, freeing up much-needed storage space and decluttering your mind for good.

The company is working on a new update for its cloud storage service that will allow users to delete large folders on Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint Document Libraries on web.

The move will cover folders holding up to 10,000 items, meaning it could be the solution your overcrowded account needs to make some room for new items.

Microsoft OneDrive purge

The official entry on the Microsoft 365 roadmap notes that the feature is still in development for now, but should have a general release in March 2022. It is listed as being available to all Web users of OneDrive and SharePoint around the world.

With hybrid working now a common experience for most businesses, cloud-based services such as OneDrive have become pivotal to making sure organizations stay connected, wherever they may be located.

Microsoft recently revealed an update for OneDrive that will embed the cloud storage service more deeply into its productivity ecosystem by working more closely with its online collaboration app Microsoft Teams.

The idea is to use this heightened level of interoperability to make it as inconvenient as possible to break away from the Microsoft ecosystem, even if a company or individual has adopted just a small selection of services.

The company also recently made it easier for remote workers to ensure that important tasks don’t slip through the cracks with another OneDrive update that provides a dedicated feed to highlight recent activity associated with their files.

However, concerns were raised in a separate area of Windows recently when Microsoft was forced to admit that its data wiping tool didn't always completely clean everything it needed to.

Although data collected by TechRadar Pro suggests Google Drive is currently the most popular cloud storage service by some margin, Microsoft will hope OneDrive improvements like these will help capture a larger portion of the business market.

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