Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer has outlined a critical role for smart cards in Microsoft's next generation .NET Platform.
Addressing more than 400 smart card industry representatives at Microsoft's second annual smart card business development conference, Ballmer said: "As we move to a Web-based lifestyle, authentication and security become critical. Smart cards are an enabling technology in the Microsoft .NET vision, providing an affordable and effective way to increase the security of computing. We believe the demand for smart cards is just emerging and will grow exponentially."
Ballmer pointed to the General Services Administration, a US government agency which recently committed to a 10-year $1.5 billion contract to implement interoperable, multi-application smart cards for physical building and network access control purposes. The GSA's contract is the largest commitment to smart card technology in the United States to date.
Attendees at the conference were provided with a personalised smart card, which not only serves as an identification badge and automatically registers them, but also can be used as a card reader throughout the conference centre, opening access to conference information and area attractions.
Microsoft also announced the release to manufacturing of the Windows for Smart Card Toolkit 1.1 with support for Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) capabilities. The new toolkit enables GSM operators and mobile equipment manufacturers to use Windows operating system-based tools to create smart card-based mobile commerce solutions. The Toolkit will soon be available free of charge from the Microsoft smart card Web site at www.microsoft.com/smartcard/deploy/