Microsoft's plans for streamlining identity management aren't limited to the client version of its Windows OS. At the RSA Conference 2006 in San Jose, California, this week the company also quietly unveiled plans to enhance access and identity management in the next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, by making its Active Directory Server the central location for those services.
Microsoft plans to rename existing services found in Windows Server and add those and other enhancements for managing user identity and access to Active Directory in the version that will be found in Longhorn, said Michael Stephenson, Microsoft's director of product management for identity and access.
Active Directory is the directory found in Windows Server and, according to Stephenson, 59 percent of midsized and enterprise companies use it today.
Longhorn is due sometime in the first half of 2007 following the release of the Windows Vista client, which Microsoft expects to ship by late November or early December of this year.
Microsoft plans to add the rights management, identity federation and security certificate services that currently are found in Windows Server to Active Directory in Longhorn, Stephenson said. The changes are aimed at giving customers a unified experience for doing identity management in the OS instead of storing some of the services in the server and others in the directory. "What we're trying to do is simplify the use of these technologies and how customers use them," he said.
Also as part of this plan, Microsoft will rename several capabilities currently found either in Windows Server and Active Directory to reflect the new streamlined approach to identity management, Stephenson said. When Longhorn is released, the branding changes will be as follows:
- Active Directory Domain Controller will become Active Directory Domain Services;
- Active Directory Application Mode will become Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services;
- Windows Rights Management Services will become Active Directory Rights Management Services;
- Windows Certificate Services will become Active Directory Certificate Services;
Identity Integration Feature Pack will become Active Directory Metadirectory Services.
The technology, code-named InfoCard, will allow users to decide how they want to be identified on each site as well as to control the personal information they provide to sites from either the control panel of the Windows OS or Internet Explorer (IE) 7, the browser that will be offered native in Windows Vista. Microsoft also plans to release a version of IE 7 for XP sometime this year.
In addition to introducing InfoCard and the Longhorn/Active Directory changes, Microsoft this week also released the first beta of Microsoft Certificate Lifecycle Manager, new software for provisioning, configuring and managing digital certificates and smart cards, Stephenson said. The new product is the result of Microsoft's acquisition of Ottawa, Canada-based ISV Alacris Inc. in September of 2005.