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Microsoft recruits OpenID evangelist

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Microsoft has recruited an open-systems digital-identity expert to help give users of Windows services a flexible system of identity and single sign-on.

Dick Hardt, co-author of the OpenID 2.0 specification and co-founder of the OpenID Foundation, is joining Microsoft as a partner architect working on consumer, enterprise, and government identity problems.

Hardt is also founder and chief executive of Sxip Identity, producer of Sxipper, a free Firefox plug-in for secure single-sign on to different web sites using OpenID, which employs open protocols to authenticate the user through the URL without a centralized system of identity management

Hardt tried to have Microsoft and Google buy Sxip Identity a year ago, but they passed. Sxip Identity is now being wound up, but it seems that there are plans to have Sxipper live on - the plan is to find funding for it in 2009.

Hardt blogged about his appointment: "This is an opportunity to work on the identity problems I have been toiling over for the last six years, but now with massive resources."

Microsoft said in February 2007 that it would support OpenID through interoperability between its own CardSpace client-side identity management system.

Significantly, Microsoft's chief architect of identity Kim Cameron was named in that announcement along with Hardt and representatives from VeriSign and OpenID vendor JanRain. Cameron is leading CardSpace and Microsoft's Geneva server, which entered beta last month. Geneva is regarded as Microsoft's attempt to do Hailstorm "right" - Hailstorm was Microsoft's aborted plan to make Hotmail's Passport the center of web identity and sign in.

Before OpenID and Sxip Identity, Hardt founded and led ActiveState as chief executive. ActiveState specialized in Perl and Python on Windows.®

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