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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 12:39 GMT
Password pain looks set to ease
Login screen, BBC
Open ID tries to give people more control over their online identities
Using your favourite websites and services could soon mean memorising far fewer passwords.

Tech giants Microsoft, IBM, Google and Yahoo have joined the board of the Open ID Foundation which aims to streamline login systems across the web.

The Foundation wants to bring about a system that could mean one ID acts as a guarantor of a person's identity across all the sites they have signed up for.

Already more than 10,000 websites have adopted the Open ID approach.

Password pain

At the moment, using a new web service typically means registering, laboriously entering personal details and thinking up another login name and password.

Open ID aims to remove some of the need to keep creating new login names and passwords by adopting the approach used by your computer when it looks up a site name you type into an browser address bar.

The Open ID approach revolves around an already established web identity that people nominate as their core identifier.

When this identity is used to sign on elsewhere, requests are sent back to the original place it was created to be verified.

While this could mean that people employ one login ID to for all the sites they use, it is more likely to let people significantly reduce the number of online identities they maintain.

Different identities could be maintained for different purposes.

"Open ID was always intended to be a decentralized sign-on system," said Brad Fitzpatrick, a Google software engineer who created OpenID while at blog software maker Six Apart. "It's fantastic to join a foundation committed to keeping it free and unencumbered by proprietary extensions."

The backing of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, IBM and Verisign will give the project more momentum as between them these firms look after services that have hundreds of millions of users.

No information has been given about when the Open ID system will be used on the web services, such as Live Mail or GMail, that the companies run.

Prior to the companies joining the Open ID board Yahoo had pledged its support. It created a trial system that let people user a Yahoo login as their Open ID. In a similar move Google allows people to leave comments on Blogger postings by signing in with their Open ID.

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