Two factor authentication (2FA) is a great way to make your online profiles a tad more secure. Now Microsoft has a new sort of 2FA that uses your most valued possession – your mobile phone.

The product is simply known as phone sign-in and allows users to switch out a password for, well to be honest we aren’t quite sure how to describe it.

The app works as such: Users download the Microsoft Authenticator app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and then add the Microsoft services they wish to unlock without a password.

Now when a user keys in their username on a MS service they’ve added to the authenticator, rather than being prompted to enter a password they will be prompted to unlock their smartphone and approve the sign-in request.

“This process is easier than standard two-step verification and significantly more secure than only a password, which can be forgotten, phished, or compromised,” Microsoft director of program management Alex Simons wrote in a blog post.

“Using your phone to sign in with PIN or fingerprint is a seamless way to incorporate two account “proofs” in a way that feels natural and familiar,” he adds.

The question then is why is this “easier than standard two-step verification” solution not being offered to owners of Microsoft’s own smartphones? – There are too few of them to warrant support.

“A few people have asked if this works with Windows Phone version Microsoft Authenticator. Windows Phone makes up <5% of the active users of our Authenticator Apps so we have prioritized getting this working with iOS and Android for now,” Simons explained.

Sadly then, for those that hedged their bets and became part of the Microsoft ecosystem in hopes that you would welcomed with open arms, it appears as if your bet was misplaced.

The good news is that if phone sign-in takes off Microsoft will evaluate adding support for Windows Phone.

The Redmond firm is encouraging users to test this new solution out and offer suggestions, ask questions and engage with the support team over on the Microsoft Authenticator forum.

[Image – CC BY 2.0 Kārlis Dambrāns]