This new app, Microsoft Authenticator, integrates the features of already existing authenticator apps, promising to offer the best features of all of them in one unified app. It will work with business-focused Azure Active Directory accounts as well as with consumer Microsoft accounts. Enterprise customers have been using Azure Authenticator and consumers have been using Microsoft Account app until now.
With the new Microsoft Authenticator app, users will be able to use two-step authentication, also known as Multi factor Authentication (MFA), with their online accounts. MFA offers users an extra layer of security for their online accounts than what can be achieved with only passwords.
As of now, while Windows, Play, and App stores have an Azure Authenticator app, when it comes to personal accounts iOS does not have any app, Windows has an app named Authenticator, and Play store has an app named Microsoft account. This new unified app will be able to support both enterprise scenarios as well as consumer scenarios on one consolidated platform. The app will only work for mobile devices.
What’s so special about the new Microsoft Authenticator app? Here’s what.
1) Microsoft promises to provide its users with a very simple and refreshed user experience through the app, while simultaneously upholding high security.
2) It offers its users one click push notifications, enabling them to click “approve” that appears in the notification for completing their login without any other hassle. Users will not even have to open the app for completing this approval in most cases.
3) It offers support for wearable devices like a Samsung Gear or an Apple Watch to approve MFA challenges.
4) Instead of passcodes, Microsoft is rolling out fingerprint based approvals on iPhone as well as on Android devices.
5) Enterprise users do not need passwords to sign in anymore, but can do so through certificates.
The Flip Side
For windows users, the new app is only for Windows 10 OS version and not for older Windows OS versions. While the app will offer support for wearables like Apple Watch and Samsung Gear, the same cannot be said for Microsoft’s own Band and Band 2, at least for now. Future releases can see support for them. As for the fingerprint based approvals, it looks like Windows mobile users might not be able to avail this as of now. For these users, future updates on Windows 10 devices will see the arrival of Windows Hello Support.
How will it be Rolled Out?
Those users already using the Microsoft account Android app can get access to the new app by downloading it when they receive a message that prompts them to do so. For enterprise users, the new app can be accessed when they receive an update to the Azure authenticator app.
Microsoft has also added that once the app is officially out there, they will release updates more rapidly. For the time being, Microsoft has made available a beta version of the app for Windows 10 phone users.