Microsoft has revamped its Windows Card plan for a mini operating system on a smart card after shelving the project four years ago. The new card OS will be tightly integrated with other Microsoft architectures, such as Windows NT and CE, and Internet Explorer.
At the Cartes' 98 conference in Paris, Craig Mundie, senior vice president of the consumer platforms division at Microsoft, said: "With its easy integration into Windows we will target the low-cost smart card market both in networked corporate environments and consumer electronics. In a business setting, Microsoft said the card could be used to enter the building and then to log on with. A beta version will be available in January.
The Windows Card will not be interoperable or compatible with the other standards in the market, MultOS and Java Card.
Mundie said that, to boost uptake, the Microsoft card will be a far cheaper option than its competitors with only an 8-bit chip compared to the 32-bit Java Card. Microsoft estimates cards will cost $2 (#1.18) to $5 (#3).
Duncan Brown, senior consultant at Ovum, said: "Java Card and MultOS are two attempts at creating a standard platform, upon which developers can build portable applications, interoperable across a variety of cards and readers. Windows Card is another attempt at solving the same problem. The two-horse race has simply become a three-horse race."
However, Duncan believes that the Windows Card has a good chance of becoming the de facto standard for network/Internet access.
"The availability of applications for the Windows Card platform will accelerate its acceptance in the market, just like the desktop Windows environment," he said.
BT DIGITAL IDS ON THE CARDS
BT and IT management company Hyperion are jointly developing a smart card that will allow customers to load BT's Trustwise digital IDs onto MultOS smart cards. Users are able to authenticate themselves to remote Web servers, and can digitally sign their Email and read messages that have been sent to them privately. Users will be able to download further MultOS applications onto their cards from the Web.
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