At last weeks Digital Identity World conference, Microsoft officials explained a concept called the "identity metasystem." In Microsofts view, such a metasystem could go a long way toward making existing digital-ID systems interoperable.
An identity metasystem is much like a metadirectory, according to industry watchers. A metadirectory, or uberdirectory service, is designed to allow users to view data from different directory systems in a unified way.
In a white paper published this month on the Microsoft Web site, Microsoft describes the identity metasystem this way: "This metasystem, or system of systems, would leverage the strengths of its constituent identity systems, provide interoperability between them, and enable creation of a consistent and straightforward user interface to them all.
"The resulting improvements in cyberspace would benefit everyone, making the Internet a safer place with the potential to boost e-commerce, combat phishing, and solve other digital identity challenges."
"The ID metasystem is a new concept that we just started talking more formally about last week," said Michael Stephenson, director of product management with the Microsoft Windows Server team.
The identity metasystem is an outgrowth of the WS-* Web services architecture that Microsoft and its partners have been championing for the past couple of years.
"The WS-* architecture has a number of the characteristics required for this (digital ID meta) system," Stephenson said. "We believe WS-* is the right architecture for plugging into the metasystem."