Google, Microsoft and the OpenID dust-up
Take the recent announcements by both Microsoft and Google that they were adopting and integrating OpenID, the open standard single sign-on system for Internet websites.
Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it was adopting the OpenID framework for its Windows Live project and that soon all Windows Live users would be able to use their Live ID to login to OpenID-enabled sites.
A day later, Google announced its OpenID plans, saying that users would be able to use their Google IDs to log in to sites that required OpenID accreditation.
Which sounds like good news for OpenID adoption which has been less than stellar to date. And with more OpenID providers, especially big ones, in the game the chances of OpenID really becoming the default standard for Internet single sign-on are strong.
Unless, of course, one of the big players deviates from the standard. Which is what many people are accusing Google of doing.
The NeoSmart blog writes: “Whatever it is that Google has released support for, it sure as hell isn’t OpenID”. And on Google’s own blog one commenter writes: In my opinion, this looks like basically just another closed, tied-to-one-vendor authentication scheme that just happens to use OpenID internally.” Another writes: “Except it’s not OpenID, is it? It’s GopenID, or GoogleID, or Andro-ID, or some other pointless fork of an existing and well-established standard.”
NeoSmart goes so far as to say that not only is Google’s “OpenID” a “‘departure’ from OpenID, it’s a whole new standard”.
Which is really the crux of the matter. The point of OpenID is to offer a simple and standard method for signing into websites. If Google uses most of the OpenID standard but then adds a couple of extra steps it potentially makes its system incompatible with other systems, and creates a fork of the original protocol. Which is exactly what you don’t want when it comes to open standards.
What is most interesting, however, is just how good Microsoft looks right now. This time it looks as if Microsoft is doing the right thing. And Google is playing the part of “embrace, extend, extinguish” which is typically assigned to Microsoft.