Microsoft: Passport Contracts to be Phased Out

Is Microsoft sending mixed messages about the future for its Passport authentication service? Analysts say outside contracts for the service won't be renewed.

Two days after eBays decision to drop support for two key .NET applications, Microsoft continues to stand behind its single sign-on Passport service in comments to the media. But BetaNews has learned Microsoft has no plans to renew contracts for Passport with third-party sites.

Microsofts initial comments Wednesday evening to BetaNews were quite vague as to the companys true position on the future of Passport.

"Over the past few years, weve learned a lot working with partners and customers using Passport, and our commitment to provide partners with secure and flexible authentication service continues," a company spokesperson told BetaNews. "That said—the primary value of single sign in authentication services is determined by related parties."

But was Microsoft admitting that by losing eBay, as well as several other high-profile Passport clients in recent months, Passport was no longer a priority in Redmond? Hardly, Microsoft said in a response to that question and others on Thursday.

"Passport continues to be a critical service for Microsoft and MSN and that the changes with Passport that we are seeing are really an evolution," the spokesperson said. "Passport continues to be one of the largest authentication systems in the world."

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read what Microsoft told about Passport plans, click here.

Outside of Microsoft, however, the story is different. The focus on Passport has been moved internal, with the sign-on service powering Microsoft-owned services and only its closest MSN partners. In a telling sign, Microsoft removed a directory of sites using Passport.

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