Are you sick of keeping track of separate user names and passwords for every site on the Internet? You're not alone.
We might not have to stand for that nonsense much longer. Single sign-on is coming soon to some of the biggest names in the online world.
There are plenty of recognizable names on the guest list already, including Microsoft
The usability implications are tantalizing. Imagine using your Yahoo! ID to sign in to Microsoft Live, GMail, or the SunSolve Solaris support site. OpenID provides the secure authentication, and then it's up to each site to check whether you're authorized to see its content.
If this works, we'll be able to check our email, balance the checkbook, and apply for Turkish citizenship with a single online identity. One username. One password. That's all it takes.
That's obviously a pipe dream now, and we're many years away from a full-scale global implementation of this, or any other, sign-on protocol. I, for one, can't wait to chuck the nearly unmanageable collection of unguessable passwords that a 21st-century digital boy collects over half a lifetime.
The token-passing authentication method is battle-tested, secure, and anonymous to the destination site -- and that's why we'll still need to set up accounts with every service but with a single point of contact for logging in. Change your password once, and you've changed them all.
When online life becomes that easy, there'll be one less reason for the average couch potato to feel intimidated by the Internet. Anybody can remember just one set of credentials, right?
There are lots of single sign-on solutions on the market today, including products from OpenID partners like Microsoft, Sun, and VeriSign
Hey -- will the OpenID consortium ever go public?
Further open Foolishness:
Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a Google shareholder with a background in single sign-on support, but he holds no position in any other company discussed here. You can check Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure won't even ask you to log in.