Online auction site eBay will stop allowing users to sign in via their .Net Passport. In an announcement made earlier today, eBay stated that towards the end of January, users would only be able to sign-in to eBay via a direct login on the site. eBay's decision to stop using passport sign-ins means that they will also be dropping use of .Net alerts on the site. .Net alerts, similar to those offered by Neowin (via Messagecast), gave eBay users information on the status of on-going auctions.
eBay will begin offering Wireless alerts to replace .Net alerts, giving users information direct to their device on auctions they have bid on (for free). eBay will also start to promote their toolbar for Internet Explorer (here) which gives similar information on an auctions status.
Microsoft stated earlier in the year that they would discontinue development on .Net passports; the program, although launched with good intentions, was dogged with privacy concerns and faced a lack of demand for the system from online websites. With eBay's decision, Passport will pursue a lonely future on Microsoft sites and products (Hotmail, MSN Messenger) only. Passport faced competition from the Liberty Alliance group who attempted to offer an alternative to Microsoft's product.
Also dropped recently was the Microsoft Directory of Passport enabled sites; one might be lead to believe that the list became so slim it was an embarrassment to the company to keep it online. That said, it's also not hard to believe that there isn't still room for an open, universal sign-on mechanism that is easy and cheap for websites to deploy and offer to their users. Perhaps the Liberty Alliance will succeed where Microsoft failed.