Microsoft is planning to release a technical preview of its proposed new federated digital ID management system InfoCard to Web developers next week.
The Infocard platform is designed to address user security issues while transacting online and overcome the confidentiality concerns which doomed Microsoft's Passport, the software company's previous foray into the digital ID space.
Unlike Passport, which positioned Microsoft as a central storehouse for all online user IDs, InfoCard is being pitched as a way for users to retain responsibility for the management and control of their digital credentials.
Under the proposals, InfoCard will hold payment authorisation and details in the same way that a wallet holds credit cards. Web merchants would correspond with banks via the Infocard application on the user PC to authorise payment. In this way, the user would not have to input or store credit card and financial details on multiple insecure Internet databases.
The system, which is expected to work with other authentication technologies such as x509 smart card certificates and is also being designed to thwart phishers, will need the support of Web merchants and banks if it is to take off.
This latest development follows Microsoft's agreement with Sun last week to develop interoperable single sign-on software for network identity management.
The new security features are expected to feature as part of Microsoft's forthcoming Longhorn operating system release.