About the Windows Biometric Framework API

Biometrics is an increasingly popular technology that can be used to provide user access to computing systems, services and resources. Biometric devices measure an unchanging physical characteristic to uniquely identify an individual.

Every individual has unique characteristics that can be used for identification. Typically these characteristics are physical and include traits such as fingerprints and retinal patterns, but they can also include behavioral traits such as gait and typing rhythm. The term biometrics encompasses both meanings. Biometric information is increasingly replacing passwords to identify and verify users. It is more secure and often more convenient for both user and administrator.

Physical devices are used to capture biometric information. The information is captured by the device as a biometric sample. A single sample contains data that represents a single biometric characteristic for one individual. Multiple samples are averaged to create a biometric template, and the template is securely stored. Biometrics works by comparing individual samples to the stored templates to establish and verify user identity. The Windows Biometric service, part of the Windows Biometric Framework (WBF), provides the following functionality. You can use the Windows Biometric Framework API to leverage this functionality.

  • Captures biometric samples and uses them to create a template.
  • Securely saves and retrieves biometric templates.
  • Maps each template to a unique identifier such as a GUID or SID.
  • Enrolls new biometric templates.

You can also use this API to extend the framework and create biometric sensor adapters, matching engines, and storage components. For more information about the Windows Biometric Framework API, see the following topics:

In this section


Biometric Framework Overview

Native support for biometric devices is incorporated into Windows.


Common biometric terms and standards organizations for further reading.

Framework Architecture

The architecture of the Windows Biometric Framework.

Plug-in Architecture

Biometric units expose the capabilities of a device to the framework through a standard interface that consists of sensor, engine, and storage adapters.

Sensor Pools

Describes three possible sensor pools: system, private, and unassigned.


Related topics

Windows Biometric Framework API