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Liberty insists no rift, just differences of opinion

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Reports of a damaging rift between Liberty Alliance Project members have been down played, although differences do exist in the platforms vendors are likely to target.

Liberty president Michael Barrett said yesterday individual group members are interested in only certain platforms and technologies. Barrett insisted, though, this does not represent a split.

At a "functional level", he said, members are still working together, developing specifications. Liberty 2.0 is due in the first half of 2003.

"At the functional level, there isn't a rift," he told ComputerWire. "Some companies are interested in some platforms and technologies, and other companies are interested in other platforms and technologies."

Barrett spoke after Liberty co-founder Sun Microsystems Inc was reported to have conceded Liberty's defeat on the Microsoft Corp-dominated Windows platform at the hands of Passport.

Santa Clara, California-based Sun's software chief Jonathan Schwartz is reported to have said "there is no way we" can compete with Microsoft and Passport on Windows. "They have that market tied down really tight."

Schwartz reportedly said he believed a generation of pervasive computing devices such as non-Windows-based smart phones would provide an opportunity for Liberty to come into its own. Sun unable to comment on Schwart'z comments.

Schwartz's comments in eWeek sparked reaction from Liberty members Provo, Utah-based Novell Corp and Waltham, Massachusetts-based Netegrity Inc, who were also quoted with Sun's executive vice president in the same article. Novell, which offers its own operating system, office, directory and authentication products alternatives to Microsoft said: "We don't have to concede anything to Microsoft."

Netegrity pointed to Liberty's cross-platform capabilities, while Passport - as delivered by Microsoft - is limited to Windows.

The recently elected Barrett backed Netegrity, adding that in "relative terms" Passport is used by a small percentage of the internet's users. "Passport has a lot of merchants and customers... but whether it is successful as a standard is another question." Microsoft says there are approximately 200 million Passport accounts.

He insisted Liberty has not officially surrendered to Passport on Windows. "If a company thinks there's going to be an economic case for deploying a Liberty-enabled competitor to Passport, that will occur," he said.

© ComputerWire

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