We’ve talked extensively about the Windows 10 Anniversary Update that is coming for those running desktop, notebook and convertible PCs. However, the Anniversary Update is also being extended to Windows 10 Mobile as well. And we’re learning today that one of the big features coming to Windows 10 Mobile devices via the Anniversary Update is support for fingerprint readers.
This is the first instance of direct software support for fingerprint hardware being embedded into Windows 10 Mobile. Smartphones running iOS and Android have supported fingerprint unlocking for quite some time, so it’s nice to see Microsoft getting onboard with support.
There’s, however, one major problem: who exactly is going to implement hardware support in their devices for fingerprint unlocking? According to AdDuplex, Microsoft/Nokia Lumias represent a whopping 97.03 percent of Windows Phone devices out there in the wild (and the company has pretty much gone radio-silent on any future Lumia devices). The next closest OEM is HTC with a measly 1.01 percent. The chances of seeing support from a third-party manufacturer anytime soon is unlikely, as the market is simply too small to address.
As for first-party hardware from Microsoft, the company has seen its market share halved in EU5 countries year-over-year (from roughly 10 percent to just 5 percent). Things are even worse in the U.S. and Chinese markets, where Windows Phone’s shares continues to dwindle to low-single digit levels.
So while fingerprint [software] support may indeed be coming this summer, it might be until sometime in 2017 before we actually see smartphones that fully support the feature. That’s when Microsoft is expected to release a family of Surface smartphones running Windows 10 Mobile.