The Microsoft Passport universal-login service is undergoing a major upgrade under the Windows Live umbrella.
The plan is to rebrand the Passport Network as Windows Live ID to serve as the authentication system for Windows Live, Office Live, Xbox Live, MSN and other Microsoft online services.
According to a blog entry by Trevin Chow, program manager in Microsofts Windows Live Identity Services team, current implementations of Passport will be compatible with the new Windows Live ID.
Microsoft launched Passport in 1999 with ambitious plans to create a one-stop-shop where personal information is stored and used for online activity such as shopping and accessing content.
Now, with the InfoCard online ID management system coming down the pike, Microsoft is making another bet that the new Windows Live ID service could still find takers on the Web.
The InfoCard initiative was originally seen as the replacement for Passport, but Chow made it clear that InfoCard will simply be another credential, or proof of identity, within Passport.
"In other words, InfoCard will not replace Passport, but rather InfoCard will supplement Passport…You will be able to link an InfoCard to your Passport and use it to access Microsoft, MSN and Windows Live services," he added.
According to Chow, the Passport upgrade is "more than just a branding change" for the service.
"There is a significant amount of work that weve done to not only help partners and end-users realize more scenarios, but also to increase availability, performance and pave the way for future scenarios by making investments up front," he added.
He said the move reflects the companys intense focus to support the new sets of Windows Live services that already includes PC security tools, drag-and-drop Web mail, an online social marketplace and a custom domain service.