Pros: Easy to set up and use - works flawlessly.
As I opened my desk drawer one day, I saw the ever-growing bulge in a file folder which contained website usernames and passwords. At first, I thought that I was just getting old and couldn't remember stuff anymore, but then realized that you have to be "Rainman" to be able to keep track of the plethora of data that every website requires.
It would really be great if we, as consumers, were able to use one password for everything. Life would be so much more simple. However, every company has its own password scheme requirements - some don't allow wildcard characters (*#(!:%) while others will not allow you to start your password with a number or a letter. Still others require passwords of at least 6 characters in length. Egads, why does life need to be so complicated???
I was in Best Buy one day and happened upon Microsoft's Biometric Fingerprint reader. The price was right at $49, so I decided that I would take a chance and see if it was something that would prove useful.
Plugging it into the USB port caused instant recognition by Windows XP and I used the accompanying CD to install the software and drivers.
When you first use the device, you are required to have it scan an image of your fingerprint. You can record several different fingers. Now, the magic of what it was created for: the first time you visit a website with a logon page, an icon pops up on the top of the page indicating that the device software "sees" an opportunity to record your logon inforamtion. You simply press your finger on the reader and you receive a confirmation tone played through the PC speakers. A window appears with logon information. Fill out the form with your username and password and then choose the proper logon link. That's it! Every time you visit that website from then on, you can have it scan your finger and voila, you're logged in. No muss, no fuss.
Got dirty fingers? It's a breeze to clean. Simply take a piece of plain Scotch tape, press it on the reader pad, and lift off the dirt and oils. The pad sparkles and is as good as new.
The only glitch that I have run into is that I started having my PC go into standby mode when I don't use it for several hours. I noticed that the reader is not prompting for passwords. Microsoft supposedly has a hotfix for this problem specific to Windows XP and I have written them for a copy of the file to be sent to me. I'm sure that this will not be a problem as MS is very good at responding quickly to technical problems and the information given in the answer is the perfect fix THE FIRST TIME!
All in all, I think this is an excellent product. The reader not only functions in websites, but you can also use the password functions for logging onto Windows and other software.
Microsoft also offers the same reader built into a keyboard and mouse set. I hope that this catches on and is used for more devices - wouldn't it be great to unlock and start your car without a key? How about unlocking your home and/or activating the alarm system? The possibilites are endless. It sure beats keeping page upon page of passwords on paper!
UPDATE 5/3/06: In keeping with Microsoft's excellent tech support, I received an email in less than 24 hours. The suggestion was that I try to perform a reinstall/repair of the software as there may be a corrupted file in my computer's registry. I did a "repair", restarted the computer and voila, it is working perfectly. Thanks again, Microsoft for top-notch tech support! Despite what some consumers may say in complaint against "Uncle Bill's" company, they truly stand behind their products and have award-winning tech support in this writer's humble opinion!