Microsoft has developed a fingerprint reader that allows users to log into their favorite Web sites without having to type long passwords and user names. A keyboard, mouse, and stand-alone fingerprint readers work with software to identify Windows users automatically entering identifications and passwords onto Web pages.
Like other devices based on biometrics -- the use of technology to recognize physical traits -- the Microsoft reader scans the unique skin patterns on a finger. The device's software keeps the image as a reference and bars others from triggering the automated passwords needed to access Web sites and computer programs.
Though the fingerprint reader works with most sites, Microsoft warns that the it should not be trusted to secure access to corporate networks or to protect data, such as financial information.
The company says it's about convenience, not security. Information for credit cards, utilities, banking and others should not be entered using the reader. Web sites that require less stringent security such as church and fellowship sites should not have a problem with the new technology.
Hardware with built-in fingerprint recognition is expected to retail at between $55 and $110, while the wireless notebook mouse will sell for $45 and the keyboard with zoom for $35.