Microsoft Developing Virtual Wallet

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Bill Gates showed off today a virtual wallet, code-named InfoCard, that will allow people to make transactions online without user names or passwords, and thus, without fear of those things being stolen.

Gates, speaking at the annual RSA security conference, said the technology will be released later this year for Internet Explorer 7, a great lock-in feature for the browser that Firefox will find likely impossible to duplicate.

Of course, the importance of this feature is wholly dependent on two things: That lots of people use it, and that lots of retailers support it. Without a mass market, no one is going to use any online payment system. PayPal only exists because of eBay, and its lack of wide-spread use (limited to a few high profile websites, and, of course, bloggers) shows how even the largest online payment service can have trouble becoming the payment method of choice for the entire web.

At least technology built into the browser will be far more secure than PayPal, which gets spoofed and phished all day long.

As part of that effort, Gates said the virtual personal information wallet, code-named “InfoCard,” would allow consumers to safely manage their identities online. It seeks to provide better security by reducing reliance on usernames and passwords which are often the target of computer criminals.

This time around, however, Microsoft puts the power in the hands of the user, Gates said. In a demonstration, Microsoft showed how easily a consumer logged onto a car rental site to quickly reserve and pay for an automobile using a card from the virtual wallet.

Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

Visit the InsideGoogle blog.

Microsoft Developing Virtual Wallet
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