Microsoft could be looking into using a new stylus as a way for Windows 10 users to securely log-in and authorise various applications, suggests a new patent application.
The technology giant's current operating system already has a feature, dubbed Hello, that enables users to log in without entering a password. Users can opt for facial recognition via an infra-red camera and a fingerprint scanner as alternative methods of logging into their PC.
But its new patent application, number 2010/0155153, could pave the way for a third Windows Hello authentication mechanism - the stylus.
The concept is simple: each stylus will have its own unique marker, and users will each have their own gesture that they write on the screen to log-in or authorise an application. The combination of the two would provide a form of two-factor authentication, believes Microsoft.
The company would also make use of its existing N-Trig technology, which is already used in the Surface Pen for these new styluses, and would use a combination of proximity, gestures and touch input to customise the authentication method for different users.
The company regularly files new patents and, although many don't actually make it to market, it is clearly intending to up its game in the hardware stakes.
Last week, it blamed falling sales of the Surface Pro tablet as the reason for its third-quarter revenue miss, although it still increased total sales by eight per cent, with cloud subscriptions also continuing to rise.
Surface revenues fell by 26 per cent year-on-year, down from $1.1bn to $831m. It blamed this on increased competition and "product end-of-lifecycle dynamics".
Overall, Microsoft's third quarter revenues hit $22.1bn, up by eight per cent year-on-year. However, analysts had been expecting even better and this caused a slight fall in Microsoft shares.
10nm Cannon Lake Core i3-8121U CPUs make a rare outing with Intel's NUC mini PC
'Notorious' Australian child hacker thought he had executed 'flawless' hack
The former employee says that Tesla fired him for bringing the accusations to management internally