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RealTime IT News

Microsoft-Sun Web Services War Heats Up

As part of its bid to be at the center of Web services, Microsoft Corp. announced it would roll out new Internet security technology next year. The technology, code-named "TrustBridge," will allow businesses to exchange user identities and interoperate.

TrustBridge is built on WS-Security, a standard of Simple Object Access Protocol extensions that Microsoft developed in April, in alliance with IBM and VeriSign. By using TrustBridge, Microsoft said, would allow businesses to recognize and share user identities with other businesses running Windows or another operating system supporting Kerberos , an open-source authentication method.

"Early on, Microsoft recognized that the key to taking the success of XML Web services to the next level hinged on the industry's ability to 'federate' or establish cross-company trust," Sanjay Parthasarathy, a corporate vice president of Microsoft's Platform Strategy Group, said in a statement. "Microsoft is filling a critical need for our customers and the industry by supporting the industry standard protocols for federating XML Web services across the Microsoft product family."

The IBM-Microsoft partnership for developing standards in the emerging Web services industry has worried Sun Microsystems, which has accused Microsoft of excluding it from the standards process as a way to cut it out of the lucrative Web services market.

TrustBridge is unlikely to build any bridges across the chasm of mistrust between the companies. Microsoft helped develop a nascent standards body, the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I), in February. Although WS-I boasts many of the big players in the industry, like BEA Systems and IBM, Sun has stayed on the sidelines, saying Microsoft did not offer it founding-member status to keep it from being influential.

Sun's rival effort to develop a common authentication system, the Liberty Alliance Project, is set to unveil a standard sometime this summer.

Microsoft's business-to-consumer authentication software, Passport, has received a shaky reception. Launched in 1999, Passport is a free service that authenticates users' identities, allowing them to move seamlessly within partner sites and make purchases without having to re-enter information. As of February, researcher Gartner Group estimated 14 million people were using Passport, which was meant to be the forerunner for My Services, the consumer side of its .Net Web services strategy.

However, the service has floundered as other businesses resisted sharing consumer information with Microsoft. In April, Microsoft quietly shelved its plans to launch My Services, focusing instead on developing the technology.