Redmond Issues Live ID SDKs

Microsoft unveils pair of Live ID SDKs.

Microsoft has released a pair of Windows Live SDKs that it says can manage the process of authenticating users of Web or client apps for developers, while sparing them from the headache of creating and storing thousands of user accounts.

The Live ID system also allows any of the hundreds of millions of people with a Windows Live account, primarily Hotmail users, to sign in to a Live ID-enabled Web service or client app without having to get a new user name or password specific to that service or app, the company says.

he Windows Live ID Web Authentication and Windows Live ID Client Authentication SDKs are aimed at developers. Microsoft's CardSpace, an information card technology that ships with Windows Vista and can be downloaded for XP, similarly allows end users to manage their various online identities.

If it catches on among developers, the Live ID client authentication could have the effect of shoring up Microsoft's Live online services portfolio -- which has languished amid stiff competition from Google Inc. -- by tying Live into Windows client apps.

Jeff Bohren, a blogger and software architect in BMC Software Inc.'s identity management unit, finds the Live authentication APIs intriguing, but notes that the entire identity management space, including CardSpace, has been plagued by a profusion of organizations offering to vouch for identities and a dearth of them willing to let someone else do the vouching. Those in the former camp are called "identity providers," while those in the latter camp are termed "relying parties."

"From a business standpoint, it seems everyone wants to be the identity provider. I believe that online businesses feel that being the identity provider puts you in the driver's seat. Being the relying party is often perceived as subservient," Bohren explains.

Microsoft didn't respond to requests for comment.

The Live ID SDK for authenticating Web site users includes implementations for developers working in ASP.NET, Java, Perl, PHP, Python and Ruby. The client SDK includes components that execute on the end user's machine along side the Live ID-enabled app, according to Microsoft's Web site.
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