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Is it time to trust Microsoft?

Microsoft is obsessed with passwords, and it's not hard to see why. Over the years it has made a lot of money essentially by setting itself up as the toll taker for various technologies--and the password is the ultimate checkpoint in the digital world.

Yet success in controlling this killer app depends on something that hasn't exactly been a strong suit with Microsoft: trust. That was the common assumption behind the failure of its earlier initiative for a universal password, called Passport. With stakes so high, however, Bill Gates is stumping again for Microsoft password technology, this time with a concept known as InfoCards.

Why try again now? For one thing, the perception of Microsoft as the evil empire of technology (or anything else) may have faded a bit in the years since its antitrust trials, especially as Google has provided another target for criticism. So the fate of InfoCards could arguably be a reflection of consumer and corporate trust of Microsoft, as well as a test of its technology.

Blog community response:

"Our data is going to end up online anyway. Keeping little silos of data spread all around the home or office makes no sense in a connected world. Why we are building and increasing our dependence on simple username/password security, even though we know the inadequacy of that mechanism?"
--Tim Anderson's ITWriting

"Oh man passwords. I can't think of a bigger headache for IT. People write them down, people forget them, people share them. Ugh. And in the world of regulated and audited systems...this isn't a good thing. Is the answer something like single-sign on with something like SecurID the answer?"

"Microsoft sells you an operating system riddled with security holes and vulnerabilities, then sells you the means with which to protect your computer investment. It sounds like some kind of mob protection scheme, or someone poisoning you, then offering to sell you the antidote."