EBay's decision to drop Microsoft's Passport identity management software spells the end of the system for anything other than Microsoft customers, according to the Liberty Alliance.
The online auction house announced over Christmas that it was dropping support for both Passport and some of Microsoft's .Net technology, citing the lack of use by its members. The move follows the withdrawal by Monster.com from Passport in October.
"Once this takes place, the Microsoft Passport button that is currently displayed on Sign In pages will be replaced with links to a page with more information, including Help in case you cannot remember your user ID or password," said eBay in a statement.
"As part of this change, we will also discontinue sending eBay notifications through Microsoft .Net alerts."
The Passport system, launched in 1999, was designed as a single sign-on point for web browsing, where users would only need to prove their identity once for e-commerce applications.
But security experts questioned the wisdom of holding so much personal information, including credit card details, on a central server.
The Liberty Alliance was formed shortly afterwards by Sun Microsystems and others to provide a rival open authentication standard. It currently has over 150 members, including American Express and SAP.
"Microsoft is going to continue with Passport for its installed customer base so it won't die," said Bjorn Wigforss, chairman of the Liberty Alliance business and marketing expert group.
"But the idea of Microsoft using federation to spread its system does seem to be over. That sort of scenario won't happen now, while the convergence of federated identity strands is happening through Liberty."
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