What's up with Windows CardSpace

Windows CardSpace, formerly InfoCard, is Microsoft's next-generation user identity management tool. Here Ed Tittel offers a quick introduction to the technology.

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When it comes to Windows CardSpace -- the Microsoft .NET Framework version 3.0 (the former WinFX) component previously known as InfoCard -- you'll find that the technology delivers a collection of new Windows user identity management capabilities that's been specifically hardened to resist tampering and elude spoofing.

The whole idea is to go PassPort at least one better, and to help protect digital user identities. Microsoft's goal is nothing less than to "revolutionize business on the Web," but this could very well be as much a matter of preserving its own interests and exploits to whittle away at PassPort's prophylactic powers as it continues to age -- or, at least, limiting Microsoft's liabilities.

Those who want to dig into this fascinating new technology could do a lot worse that to work their way through the papers and articles on the Windows CardSpace home page. There, you'll find a bunch of interesting stuff, including the following:

  • An official introduction, which invokes the notion of a "standards-based solution" to discuss CardSpace.
  • More on Windows CardSpace
    Definition: Windows CardSpace

    Tip: .NET 3.0: What it is and what it means for developers 

    Podcast: At Tech Ed 2006, .NET 3.0 makes an appearance
  • Various videos involving Nigel Watling and Andy Harjanto ("Windows CardSpace Explained") as well as CardSpace Evangelist Kim Cameron ("Channel 9 Interviews Kim Cameron").
  • Both "First Looks" and "Deeper Look" pieces devoted to Windows CardSpace, as well as a thought-provoking item called "The Laws of Identity."
  • Numerous other blogs, guides, and a technical reference for Windows CardSpace v1.0.

This is enough to keep somebody busy for the better part of a day or longer, depending on on whether a person wants to dig down deeply into the details or stay more at a 10,000-foot level.

Those who want to start groping toward a more technical understanding of CardSpace will probably appreciate its formal definition as a source of digital identity. According to MS expert Kim Cameron, "A digital identity is a set of claims made by one digital subject about itself or another digital identity."

Circular definitions or logic aside, this means that CardSpace supports multiple identities so they may be used as needed. It also works with numerous XML based Web Services protocols to facilitate secure exchange of identity information, along with a GUI that lets users pick, choose, and use any of their digital identities, where each one appears as a visual "ID card" for easy selection.

If you want to know more -- and anybody who works with user identity info in the Visual Studio/Microsoft environment definitely should want just that -- jump to the aforementioned Windows CardSpace home page and start digging in. Bon Appetit!

Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail etittel@techtarget.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!

This was first published in October 2006

Dig deeper on Windows Vista security and .NET Framework 3.0

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