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Gates outlines ID management for Vista, XP

InfoCard to help users remember passwords

Microsoft plans to include technology in both Windows Vista and XP to allow users to manage their passwords and identities across multiple websites, according to the company's chairman and chief software architect, Bill Gates.

Gates discussed Microsoft's plans for the technology, codenamed InfoCard, during a keynote at the RSA Conference 2006 in San Jose yesterday morning. The technology acts as a 'wallet' where users can store identity and password information for various websites, said Michael Stephenson, Microsoft's director of product management for identity and access, in an interview following Gates' keynote.

Using InfoCard will eliminate the need for users to remember multiple identities and passwords for websites with which they do business, he said. It will also help them manage what information is provided across those sites.

Companies have been trying to solve the problem of managing authentication and identities across multiple websites as e-commerce, online banking and other online business becomes increasingly pervasive. Microsoft first discussed its plans for a technology of this nature last year, but yesterday was the first time the company articulated how it might work.

Microsoft users will see InfoCard in the control panels of Windows Vista and also in Windows XP, as well as in Internet Explorer 7.0, which the company plans to offer for both versions of the OS. Vista is expected to be available sometime in late November or early December this year.

InfoCard must also be supported on a website in order for a Windows user to take advantage of it, Stephenson said. Microsoft plans to include the technology as a part of WinFX, the programming model for Windows Vista, so developers can use the technology in website development, he said.

Additionally, Microsoft released a developer resource kit for InfoCard that can be used in conjunction with the test preview of Windows Vista that was released in September. The kit, called the Federated Identity and Access Resource Kit, is available here.

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