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Report: New ID system coming to Longhorn

To stem identity theft online, Microsoft may be readying a new ID management system for its Longhorn version of Windows.

The company will in coming months begin testing the new system, which uses electronic "info cards" that allow people to selectively disclose information about themselves to businesses and others online, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The plan would mesh with Microsoft's public statements in recent months. Scott Charney, vice president of the software maker's Trustworthy Computing initiative, has long advocated an electronic ID card system as a way to protect consumer data.

Microsoft has entered the ID management area cautiously, however. Its Passport digital ID plan has all but vanished from the Web. And an earlier online ID system called Hailstorm, that would manage personal data and assist consumers in making online purchases, was scuttled due to privacy concerns and a lack of partner participation.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has said on numerous occasions that he thinks the conventional digital password is dead. Now, at least, we have an idea of what the software giant has in mind for a replacement.