Delayed signing refers to a technique of partially signing assemblies while they are in development. Signing an assembly basically certifies that assembly by the manufacturer and prevents tampering and hi-jacking of that assembly. The signing is accomplished by using public key/private key encoding of parts of the assembly. The public key is embedded in the assembly and will be used by third-parties who want to reference the assembly. There are many more benefits to signing an assembly, but the main purpose of delayed signing is to allow a company to protect and control its private key and only use it during the packaging process. A delayed signed assembly can still be used like a signed assembly, you just can't package and ship it. For more information, refer to Chapter 3 of "Applied Microsoft .NET Framework Programming" by Jeffrey Richter. Everyone who plans to develop .NET applications should read this book.
This was first published in August 2004