Microsoft still king of the hill
December 2, 2002 3:26 PM   Subscribe

Liberty Alliance conceded defeat last week to Microsoft .NET Passport. AOL, a key player in Liberty Alliance, just disbanded it's Magic Carpet team, whose memebers were also the AOL point people for the Sun-led Liberty Alliance Project, and played a very active role in its progression. How long do we wait until they start complaining about Microsoft having a monopoly in unified authentication systems?
posted by riffola (6 comments total)
is anyone using passport? maybe the whole thing (ie passport as well) has folded because authenticated web services haven't taken off?
posted by andrew cooke at 3:31 PM on December 2, 2002

I use it with Hotmail; no where else, though.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 3:58 PM on December 2, 2002

eBay uses Passport
posted by riffola at 4:10 PM on December 2, 2002

Microsoft probably has an awful lot of Passport users, since they do a lot to push you into it from Win XP, Hotmail and MSN. The real fight has been for the partners, including vendors and credit card companies. Sun did pretty well there in getting them to sign on to Liberty Alliance. I don't know of any major ones that have signed on to Passport. On the other hand, I haven't been following that closely; does anyone have any more info about whether Passport is really used for anything not provided by MS?

The real problem is that unified authentication is a lot like DRM: it does a lot more for the convenience of corporations than users. Sun had to come up with a response to fight the Passport propaganda, but in the end unified authentication is a bad, bad idea.

In the meantime, be wary of the real reasons behind anything that Sun says about MS in public; there's a lawsuit on and a lot of posturing is involved.
posted by fuzz at 4:10 PM on December 2, 2002

I have to use Passport to fetch software licence details for the company where I work. That's the only reason I have a passport account and I don't use it or passport at all for eBay.

I don't trust any given company enough to give them all of my details in the one place.
posted by krisjohn at 7:18 PM on December 2, 2002

The "digital identity" technology sector is still very young. To say that Microsoft has "won" anything, when the only major non-Microsoft site that accepts Passport is eBay, is premature. Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and several big banks are Liberty members, and they are not just going to give e-commerce to Microsoft, believe me.

Liberty's basic charter is to create specifications, and this it is achieving. AOL's disbanding of its Magic Carpet team may just mean that they have decided to go with the flow rather than trying to get Liberty to adopt their solution. (The comments for the Magic Carpet link above indicate that this technology was seriously flawed to begin with.) You just can't tell from the limited amount of information leaking out, especially considering the motives various companies have for putting their own spin on things.

In my opinion, all the squabbling over consumer identity applications is sound and fury at the moment. The core technology has pretty major appeal for enterprise application integration and regulatory compliance. The company I worked for until mid-October tried a consumer launch some time ago and it just didn't go anywhere, and judging by Passport's lack of traction with vendors, it was (and still is) a market issue rather than something we did wrong. When enough companies adopt identity technology for their own purposes, then there might be some compelling reason to use the consumer services.
posted by kindall at 2:15 PM on December 4, 2002

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