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CardSpace Motivation?

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, June 24, 2006
5:03 am

At the recent Catalyst Conference, John Shewchuk of Microsoft said, essentially, “InfoCard is the concept. Windows CardSpace is a specific selector, using the InfoCard concept.”

During the Q&A period for the panel on which he sat, I asked John, “What is Microsoft’s motivation for committing so many resources to the InfoCard/CardSpace initiative?”

His response was predictable: Microsoft’s customers demand interoperability.

OK. I’ll take that as a given. It is customer demand that has driven the recent Sun Microsystems / Microsoft interoperability efforts. But I think the motivation is much deeper than that. The motivation is to establish preeminence in the battle for large-scale identity infrastructure. Microsoft isn’t going to make money from CardSpace on the desktop. It will be yet another feature of Windows. But if the big dogs (e.g. Yahoo, Amazon, eBay) adopt the Microsoft meta system for User-centric Identity, Microsoft will have a leg up on other competitors, including our own Sun Microsystems, for selling large-scale Identity infrastructure to identity providers and relying parties.

Make no mistake. User-centric Identity is not some altruistic quest for identity/privacy nirvana. It is an intense competition for who will build the infrastructure to make it happen.

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