Microsoft has announced the impending launch of a new keyboard design, which is built to integrate with the biometric authentication capabilities of Windows Hello: the Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID.
Quietly unveiled on the Microsoft Store US website, the Modern Keyboard is at first glance a simple wireless keyboard. The full-width design includes six-key Home section, cursor keys, a numberpad, and full alphanumerics picked out in grey, laptop-style 'island' keycaps, while the keyboard's frame is built from aluminium. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless connectivity is included as standard with a claimed seven-metre effective range in a typical office environment, though a micro-USB port is claimed to both charge the device and allow for wired use.
The key difference between the Microsoft Modern Keyboard and any other wireless keyboard, though, is given in the second part of its name: 'With Fingerprint ID'. According to Microsoft's blurb for the keyboard: 'Our vision was to blend the Fingerprint reader into a keyboard, so it would appear to be any other key. We iterated relentlessly to improve each layer, making sure they came together to create a flawless typing experience that felt like any other key.
The built-in fingerprint reader is designed to tie in to Windows Hello, a feature introduced with Windows 10 which is designed to allow for facial, fingerprint, or iris recognition for user authentication when installed on or connected to a device with compatible hardware.
Microsoft bills the keyboard itself, however, as being compatible with all Windows releases from Windows RT 8 through to the latest Windows 10, barring for some reason Windows 7 which is listed as 'Not Compatible'. The keyboard is also claimed to work with macOS 10.11.1 and upwards, Android 4.2 and upwards, and iOS 8 and upwards, though whether this includes the fingerprint reader has not been confirmed.
: Since this article was published Microsoft has updated the specifications page for the keyboard, quietly deleting support for any operating system bar 32-bit and 64-bit installations of Windows 10.
Microsoft has announced the keyboard with a US recommended retail price of $129.99 (around £102 excluding taxes). More information is available on the official product page