In Pictures: The good, bad and ugly history of Microsoft hardware

Microsoft built its identity on software development. Just refer to the name, and pay special attention to the "soft." But throughout its storied history, the company has progressively become much more of a multi-discipline workshop, producing physical gear alongside ethereal software code. And now we have the Surface RT tablet, the perfect springboard to recount some of the most memorable (and forgettable) products in Microsoft's hardware history.

2004: Microsoft Fingerprint Reader

Using different passwords can be a pain to remember and using the same one for all your accounts is a risky practice. So in 2004, Microsoft introduced a fingerprint scanner to help alleviate password headaches... but probably ended up inducing more trouble of a different kind.

The device could store up to 10 fingerprints per user, each of which would be registered with a username and password and stored on your system. It was marketed as a tool of convenience and not security because the system didn't encrypt the saved fingerprint data. Indeed, anyone with the right tools could gain access to the fingerprint files, and thus all the information belonging to the owner of each digit.

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