Monday, May 08, 2006
Dealing with identity in a digital world is a challenging problem. There are plenty of different systems used today to define and convey digital identity, and more are sure to be created. With Passport, Microsoft tried to create one identity system that could be used by many different people and organizations. While Passport wasn't a failure--it's used today by lots of people--the main thing Microsoft learned from it seems to be that a single-source model for identity will never suffice. What's needed is a way to use the plethora of existing identity systems in an effective way--an identity metasystem
Working with others, Microsoft has defined what this metasystem should look like. More important, they've also created software that lets Windows applications fit into this system. Code-named "InfoCard", I'd argue that this technology is among the most interesting things happening in distributed computing today. It's also poised to be one of the most important, since if it's successful, everybody will use it, including your children and your mom. InfoCard also offers a way to reduce the use of passwords on the web and significantly better protection against phishing attacks, two potentially big benefits.
I've written a Microsoft-sponsored white paper, Introducing InfoCard
, that provides an introduction to this new approach to digital identity. I believe that anybody who cares about modern computing should take the time to understand what InfoCard is all about--it's that significant. And as always, let me know what you think.