Right on the heels of Microsoft’s claim that free software like Linux violates 235 of its patents, they announced that they will be funding several new projects to develop open-source versions of the CardSpace technology used for digital information cards.
As part of this effort, Microsoft released the Identity Metasystem under its Open Source Promise (OSP) program. The OSP program gives developer access to Web services protocols Microsoft has developed without the need for a license or fear of legal action. The Microsoft Identity Selector Interoperability Profile (ISIP) is also available under OSP. ISIP helps identity providers share digital identity information and includes several of Microsoft’s WS* implementations, such as WS-Trust and WS-Security.
The new projects will develop information cards for Java, Ruby on Rails, and PHP and will be hosted on SourceForge.net, RubyForge.org, and CodePlex. In addition, a C library is also being developed.
Beyond the information card technology, Microsoft is also working to provide an OpenLDAP adapter for it’s Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007, which allows the lifecycle of a user’s identity to be securely managed on a network.
I think Microsoft is really sending a mixed message not only to the open-source community but also to the industry. No matter what the outcome, it’s becoming clear to Microsoft that there are other technologies available and that in order for these technologies to communicate easily with Windows-based systems, they must open up their technology and protocols.