Microsoft plans to include technology in both Windows Vista and Windows XP for allowing users to manage their passwords and identities across multiple Web sites, according to the company's Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates.
Gates discussed Microsoft's plans for the technology, code-named InfoCard, during a keynote at the RSA Conference 2006 in San Jose, California, on Tuesday morning. The technology acts as a "wallet" where users can store the identity and password information for how they would like to be identified on various Web sites, 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 Web sites with which they do business, he said. It also will 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 Web sites as e-commerce, online banking and other online business has become increasingly pervasive. Microsoft first discussed its plans for a technology like InfoCard last year, but Tuesday 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, which the company plans to offer for both versions of the OS. Windows Vista is expected to be available sometime in late November or early December of this year.
InfoCard also must be supported on a Web site 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 Web-site development, he said.
Additionally, Microsoft Tuesday 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.