Microsoft Corp.s Belgian subsidiary has launched an electronic ID card pilot program and is looking to integrate authentication for e-ID cards into future versions of the MSN Messenger instant messaging service.
Microsoft Belgium on Monday announced a new Electronic ID Early Adopter program. Under the program, Microsoft will be working with local software vendors to develop e-ID-based applications. Microsofts MSN division will develop one such application—an authentication service for MSN, according to Microsoft officials.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates made the announcement along with the Minister of IT in Belgium, in front of an audience of government and IT officials on Monday.
Information on MSNs work with the Belgian government around e-ID cards was first reported by the www.mess.be Web site.
The government of Belgium is engaged in a program to equip all citizens over age 12 with an e-ID card. According to the Mess.be site, the new e-ID card will replace traditional ID cards for 8 million Belgian citizens by December 31, 2009. Mess.be says the new e-ID cards will include photos, names, nationality, place and date of birth, a national ID number and a validity date, all of which will be stored electronically.
"We hope to learn from our experiences here as we incubate this project so that we can apply learnings to projects in other countries that may have or are currently finalizing their own e-ID plans, or possibly to other products if it makes sense," said an MSN spokesperson.
For now, the e-ID project is focused exclusively on MSN Messenger, and Microsoft "has no other potential applications to announce at this time," the spokesperson said.