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Ronnie Manning

Passwordless Login with the YubiKey 5 Comes to Microsoft Accounts

We’ve done it! Together, with Microsoft, we’ve officially made it possible for hundreds of millions of Microsoft users around the world to log in without a password on their personal Microsoft accounts (MSA), with a YubiKey 5 or Security Key by Yubico.

With the latest update to Windows 10 (version 1809) and existing native support in Edge, all consumer Microsoft accounts now support passwordless login via FIDO2/WebAuthn. Yes, no passwords.

With a Microsoft account and the YubiKey, you can quickly and securely log in (and automatically single-sign-on) to all of these Microsoft services on Edge:


That’s one login, zero passwords, and effortless access to your most loved Microsoft services.
Let’s just take a moment for that to sink in.

Today’s announcement from Microsoft is a landmark in the history of authentication. The first driverless, one-touch authentication USB device was launched in 2008, in the form of the original one-time password (OTP) YubiKey. To improve protection against phishing and advanced attacks, and make it work with any number of services with no shared secrets, Yubico co-created U2F with Google, that was later contributed to the FIDO Alliance.

To remove the need for a username and long complicated passwords, we worked with Microsoft and the FIDO Alliance to evolve U2F into FIDO2 for passwordless login.  We say thank you to everyone who has been part of making this a reality. 

“Password-less sign-in is a transformational change to how business users and consumers access devices and applications. It combines industry-best ease of use and security to create an experience people are going to love and hackers are going to hate,” said Alex Simons, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Identity Division. “FIDO2 is a key part of Microsoft’s push to eliminate passwords and devices like the YubiKey 5 are a great example of how we’re working with partners to make this transformation a reality.”

How To Register A YubiKey with Your Microsoft Account

To take advantage of this new, advanced security feature, you will need to simply register your FIDO2-enabled YubiKey 5 Series or Security Key by Yubico with your Microsoft account. This feature is available on any Windows PC with the Windows 10 version 1809 update and Microsoft Edge installed.

You have the option to do so either by USB-A or USB-C port (YubiKey 5 NFC, YubiKey 5 Nano, YubiKey 5C, YubiKey 5C Nano, Security Key by Yubico) or by NFC (near-field communication) wireless connection (YubiKey 5 NFC).  

  1. To begin, launch Microsoft Edge on the latest Windows 10 update (version 1809) an visit Microsoft account page and sign in as you normally would and click on Security > More security options, select Set up a security key.
  2. Identify what type of YubiKey you have (USB or NFC) and select Next.
  3. You will be redirected to the setup experience where you will insert or tap your YubiKey 5 or Security Key. This action generates a unique public-private key pair between your YubiKey and your Microsoft account, and only the YubiKey stores the private key. It never leaves your device.The public key is stored with the Microsoft service to allow for verification of your authentication.  
  4. You will then be prompted to set a unique PIN to protect your key. This PIN is stored locally on the YubiKey—not with Microsoft accounts.  
  5. Take the follow-up action by touching YubiKey gold sensor.
  6. Name your security key so that you can distinguish it from other keys (we always recommend setting up an additional YubiKey for back up)
  7. Sign out and open Microsoft Edge, select use security key instead, and sign in by inserting or tapping your key and entering your PIN.

That’s it! You have successfully replaced your Microsoft account password with strong, hardware-based authentication using public key cryptography to protect against phishing and man-in-the-middle. For more details, visit yubico.com/go-passwordless/microsoft and if you want to see more, check out our fun promo videos here and here!!!

Authenticating Beyond Your Microsoft Account

In addition to FIDO2, the YubiKey 5 series supports: FIDO U2F, PIV (smart card), OpenPGP, Yubico OTP, OATH-TOTP, OATH-HOTP, and challenge-response. This means the same device that you use to protect your Microsoft account can be used to protect your password manager, social media accounts, and your logins to hundreds of services. Check out the Works with YubiKey catalog to discover other services that support the YubiKey.