Sun to launch digital ID, may take on Microsoft

Network computer maker Sun Microsystems plans to announce a "digital identity" initiative, a move that appears to take aim at an old foe - Microsoft - and the software giant's Passport system for Internet commerce.

Sun said in a statement on Tuesday that Scott McNealy, chief executive and chairman, would unveil the initiative "surrounding digital identity solutions" with an alliance of industry partners in a conference call tomorrow.

A Sun spokeswoman declined to elaborate ahead of the call, but the company has said it would take on Microsoft in this market, seen as key to making the Internet easier to use.

Microsoft's Passport system seeks to speed Web commerce by keeping files of sensitive data on users so that a Passport user signed into the system no longer has to re-enter often-used information and passwords.

McNealy, who has been among the most outspoken critics of Microsoft's attempts to build new services from the strength of its alleged monopoly position in computer operating systems, has said Microsoft should not keep such data.

"There will be an alternative to this. Soon. But not soon enough," McNealy told a conference in the US in late August in a speech that criticised Microsoft's attempt to expand onto the Internet.

At issue in part is the degree to which the organisation holding personal data could use it, where the data would be held and the security of the personal information.

Sun markets its Java Internet-software as the backbone of a system to rival Microsoft infrastructure software on the Web.

News source: ZDnet Australia

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