Yahoo Hops on OpenID Train

The drive toward openness and interoperability in Web services is gathering steam.

Yahoo today announced that it is supporting the OpenID 2.0 digital identity framework, giving a ringing endorsement to the effort to build a universal login standard — which has been dismissed by some skeptics as a dreamer’s fantasy.

The addition of Yahoo, which counts 248 million registered users globally, will triple the number of OpenID accounts on the Web to 368 million, the company reported.

“Yahoo’s commitment to an open Web is a significant validation of the OpenID movement,” said Scott Kveton, chairman of the OpenID Foundation, in a statement. The OpenID Foundation formed in June 2007 to promote the standard.

The brainchild of LiveJournal creator Brad Fitzpatrick, who is now with Google, OpenID is designed to provide Web users with a universal identifier so they can sign into social networks, blogs and other Web sites with a single login.

When Yahoo launches its OpenID service in public beta form on Jan. 30, anyone with an OpenID identifier will be able to log into Yahoo’s Web sites.

On non-Yahoo sites, Yahoo users will be able to type “” into the login prompt of a site that uses OpenID. The company Yahoo said that it is also working with several OpenID partners to include a “Sign in with Your Yahoo ID” button on their sites to further streamline the process.

Prior to Yahoo’s announcement, AOL had been the biggest name behind OpenID. Other backers include Plaxo, the online address service, and blogging sites Technorati and

Still, OpenID has remained at the fringes of the Web, hindered by security concerns and a tepid embrace beyond its early adopters. It is also part of the larger push toward cross-platform interoperability that some Web properties have resisted.

OpenID is one of the initiatives supported by the DataPortability Workgroup, a broad-based coalition devoted to creating open standards and protocols to level the barriers between Web sites.

Last week, the group announced that representatives from Google and Facebook had joined the effort.

Both companies, which each offer a third-party developer platform for applications to run across various social networks, were two of the last major holdouts to the coalition.

In addition to OpenID, the DataPortability Workgroup supports data-integration standards such as the Resource Description Framework (RDF), Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) and others.

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