Microsoft to open Passport to rivals

Sept. 20 — Microsoft Corp. is modifying plans for its Passport service, inviting rivals and other companies to create a common way to use a single user name and password at sites across the Internet.

THE SOFTWARE COMPANY'S plan is designed to meet potential objections from users and partners, some of whom have raised privacy concerns about Microsoft or any other organization creating one vast repository of customer information.

Passport, a critical part of Microsoft's Internet strategy, was developed to allow users to be able to log on just once and get access to multiple Microsoft Web sites and those of other companies that sign up for its service. It already claims some 165 million separate accounts, and more are expected to be created as the new Windows XP operating system prompts users to sign up.

Under the new strategy, to be formally announced Thursday, Microsoft plans to base the next version of Passport on a technology called Kerberos and encourage other companies to do the same. By using compatible technology, Microsoft officials say, other Web sites or rivals such as AOL Time Warner Inc. could set up Passport-like services of their own that work together like networks of bank automated-teller machines. A user might store their password with a service run by AOL, for example, and get access to Microsoft's sites, or vice versa.

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