The other day I briefly mentioned the pain point of the web2.0 world and how consolidation, aggregation and summarization will help reduce some of it. Microsoft today formally announced the availability of Microsoft Live ID as a contender for the providing SSO (single sign on) services in the web 2.0 world. Live ID, incase you didnt know,Ã‚Â is the repackaged version of Microsoft Passport Network, which had failed so badly that it forced Microsoft to pull it out of the market. Here are some examples of how to use other languages like php, perl, python, ruby etc to do authentication using Live ID. Microsoft is not the first one to openly come out with a SSO technology. Liberty Alliance and OpenID are other opensource competitors which have some foothold in this market already.
The move to SSO, in the web 2.0 world, (Single sign on) is bound to happen regardless of how scary some people might find it to be. If you can trust your online bank with 100000 dollars and trust 3 companies you don't really know with your entire credit history, then this shouldn't be that much of a concern. The real question is whether you trust the technology leaders Microsoft, Google, YahooÃ‚Â or others like Verisign enough to provide these critical services for you.
In my opinion the reason why OpenID and Liberty Alliance have failed is because of fragmentation of standards and lack of leadership. While Microsoft failed the commercial venture into Authentication services (Microsoft Passport network) it might actually do well as long as it doesn't screw up this time. Not because the they have done a great job in the past, but because the pain is now so unbearable that people are willing to give almost anything a try. But the real kicker is that almost everyone has a microsoft account anyway, so if I had an option to use my Microsoft account to login to a new web 2.0 product, I'll do that in a heart beat. Creating yet another account with a new password and doing the email confirmation thing is not an adventure anymore... ( or may be I'm getting old ).
I predict that Google or Yahoo will soon jump into this with its own suite of authentication services (probably using OpenID or Liberty Alliance) which will then become the next battleground in the web2.0 world. I also predict that in a couple of years after that many of the web services will move towards supporting these forms of authentication services so that users are not forced to create new user accounts with new passwords every single time.
And if my predictions don't really come true... hey, at least I know that I can dream.