eBay Turns In Its Passport

    January 5, 2005

In a humiliating turn of events for Microsoft, eBay announced that it has dumped the Microsoft Passport user authentication system.

Passport was launched in 1999 with great fanfare as the ultimate solution to ecommerce security and ecommerce simplicity. It allows users to store passwords and credit card details for use on multiple websites. EBay was one of the early adopters of Passport, beginning in 2001.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Passport simply has not caught on. At eBay, very few customers have utilized the service.

In a statement, eBay said, “In late January, we will no longer support the ability for members to sign into eBay through Microsoft Passport. This means that members currently using this service will have to sign in through eBay directly.

“As part of this change, we will also discontinue sending eBay notifications through Microsoft .net alerts.”

eBay decided to stop supporting the service after Microsoft made an “architectural change” to its online authentication service, an eBay rep told News.com Thursday.

Seth Jayson of Fool.com takes a harsh look at the Microsoft Passport service:

“This is the biggest public kiss-off Passport has had to endure since getting a Dear John from Monster last fall.


In this Fool’s experience, Passport has been one of the worst “technologies” Microsoft has ever offered. Constant re-typing and endless login-loops at eBay were the only reward I ever got for trying to sign in using my Microsoft Passport.”

An article in ZDNet has another sour take on the situation …

“Christmas is always a good opportunity to bury bad news while prying eyes are distracted by presents and turkey. Last year Sun canned its Cobalt brand. This year, it seems, the festive period was a good time for Microsoft to bury Passport, its much-trumpeted single sign-on service.

Microsoft made the admission on the quietest week of the year, and even then only after eBay — Microsoft’s biggest partner both financially and by number of participating sites — brought down the hammer on the final nail. Now, Microsoft will stop trying to persuade Web sites to use the service, and instead will just continue to use it for its own properties.”

The ZDNet article closes with, “Passport is not quite dead, but for the industry as a whole it is now irrelevant.” I guess that sums it up.

Rich Ord is the CEO of iEntry, Inc. which publishes over 200 websites and email newsletters.

Rich also publishes his blog WebProBlog which focuses on internet business and marketing trends.