Sun Microsystems Inc., along with dozens of partners from the high-tech, financial, automotive and travel industries, announced last week the creation of a group dedicated to developing an interoperable network identity technology.
The coalition, known as the Liberty Alliance Project, was created to offer direct competition to Microsoft Corp.s Passport identity service.
"Our goal is interoperability. We want to have an open specification," said Jeff Veis, senior director of business alliances at Sun, in Palo Alto, Calif.
The project has drawn wide support from across several industries, and its charter members include Bank of America Corp., General Motors Corp. and RSA Security Inc.
Liberty Alliance officials said that they hope to have a solid working specification by years end.
Predictably, Microsoft Group Vice President of Platforms Jim Allchin views the Sun initiative as sniping.
"My initial reaction is that Sun is late to the party," Allchin said. "I dont know why people have ... this ill-formed perspective that all digital IDs are going to be in Passport. Do you think all governments are going to put digital IDs into Passport?"
A spokesman for the Redmond, Wash., company said that, contrary to several media reports, Sun did not ask Microsoft to join the Liberty Alliance, although he said he believed there may be some common ground for the two companies to explore.