RSA - Microsoft developer takes InfoCard beyond Windows

Microsoft identity guru Kim Cameron has written software to help bloggers use the InfoCard authentication technology.

The man behind Microsoft's InfoCard identity management technology has written some software to help dispel the idea that InfoCard will be too complex or too Windows-centric to succeed.

At the RSA Conference 2006 in California, this week, Microsoft Architect of Identity and Access Kim Cameron unveiled code he had written in the PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) Web scripting language designed to allow blog operators to configure their Web sites to work with InfoCard, which is slated to ship as part of Windows Vista later in the year.

The PHP software, which is not a Microsoft product, could be used by Linux Web servers, Cameron said. The code was written to allow the open-source WordPress blogging software, which is based on PHP, to work with an InfoCard-enabled client.

Though others have called for the InfoCard client software to be written for platforms other than Windows, the WordPress and PHP server software comprised "the most important starting point," Cameron said. "A lot more people run blogs on WordPress than run Linux desktops," he said.

Microsoft envisions InfoCard as a simple and secure authentication technology that will, among other things, ultimately replace the username- and password-based systems used by most Web sites today. But given the failure of Microsoft's previous Passport authentication effort, Cameron has had to work hard to convince skeptics.

Microsoft is now working to get InfoCard support from governments, financial organizations, large Web companies and individual bloggers, and hopes to announce widespread support for the authentication software in a "monster" announcement sometime around the release of Vista, Cameron said. "It will either be a monster or the project will be killed," he said.

Windows Vista is expected in November or December of this year.

Releasing the PHP code will be a step toward convincing bloggers and Web site operators that InfoCard authentication can be done with very little effort, Cameron said. "What I'm trying to show people is that this is not a rocket-science operation," he said. "This is actually quite straightforward stuff."

"The only thing that had to be changed was this little tiny element that turns an InfoCard into a cookie," he added. "You don't have to throw out anything. The whole site continues to work in the same way it always has"

Cameron's software will be posted to his Identity Weblog site (http://www.identityblog.com/) "within the next week," he said.

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Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
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