Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced plans for a new technology called TrustBridge which it says will help businesses securely share customer identity information.
Scheduled for release next year, the technology is roughly analogous to the companys .Net Passport service, which stores consumer identity data and enables single sign-on across multiple Web sites. Microsoft said TrustBridge will allow businesses to securely authenticate and share user identities across business and security boundaries.
TrustBridge will run on a number of Unix platforms as well as Windows, and will support the use of Kerberos 5.0, a widely deployed strong authentication technology.
The announcement marks a significant shift in direction for Microsoft, which until now has focused its Web services efforts solely on its own Windows platform. By touting interoperability and federation, the Redmond, Wash., company also seems to be making an overture to the Sun Microsystems Inc.-led Liberty Alliance, which is also at work on a Web-based identity specification.
Sun and other members of the Liberty Alliance have been critical in the past of Microsofts plans to restrict the use of .Net Passport to Windows. Although TrustBridge will be tightly linked to Active Directory, Microsoft said in a release that companies will be able to deploy it "to recognize and share identities with other organizations running Windows or any other identity infrastructure on any operating system that supports Kerberos v5.0."
Microsoft did not release any details on which of its products will include TrustBridge or how exactly it will be delivered.
But, the company did say that it plans to add support in several of its upcoming products for the new WS-Security family of protocols it developed with IBM and VeriSign Inc. Among those products due to include such support are the .Net Passport, which will add support for Kerberos and WS-Security in 2003; and Visual Studio .Net.