11-Apr-02
Microsoft Hits Brick Wall

My Services, the heart of Microsoft's .NET consumer plan has died from lack of trust.

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My Services, the Internet services suite formerly known as Hailstorm, key to Microsoft's broader .NET consumer identity plan, has failed to garner support from banks, credit card companies and other major "partners". "There was incredible customer resistance" reports a Microsoft .NET consultant (who understandably asked not to be identified).

My Services was intended to provide a single secure login for all users of the Internet, which would clear them into all the secured sites they visit. All their credit card information, calendars, travel plans and other personal information was to be stored on Microsoft .NET servers, where consumers could allow controlled access to it for credit card clearing, arranging meetings and vacations and the like.

Additional My Services modules are email (an expanded HotMail), an extended and enhanced Microsoft Instant Messaging, and an Electronic Wallet consumers could use for Internet payments.

Preparing for full deployment, Microsoft made Passport, the key My Services login service, mandatory for HotMail, Instant Messaging, on-line registration of Windows XP and Office XP, and other popular services. This allowed them to show a huge number of registered Passport users to impress their prospective business "partners".

[ UPDATE: Of course, there are still some who will follow Microsoft anywhere. Bank One, Monster.com, McAffee and others were investing heavily in systems to use Passport services like My Alerts (Bank One to the tune of a $30 million deal with Microsoft). These "early adopters" are feeling just a bit abandoned right now.

Predictably, now that Microsft's own overhyped My Services Web services have fallen flat on their face, they're accusing the rest of the industry of overhyping Web services. ]

Analysis

OK, I've learned something new - there IS a limit to the stupidity of American corporations - and that limit has finally been successfully reached. The cruel reality behind my phrase, "A Microsoft partner is a victim they haven't gotten to yet", is starting to penetrate even the most greed blinded executive suites.

This puts a huge hole in Microsoft's "bet the company" .Net initiative - Hailstorm was the heart of it's consumer plan, and the long term plan to collect a fee for every online financial transaction anyone makes.

The problem with My Services is one of trust. It requires business partners to trust Microsoft, and to trust Microsoft security. Either concept is absurd - together they are completely unbelievable. Now add in trusting your critical business processes to the stability and reliability of Microsoft's sluggish Windows Internet servers.

All of the Hailstorm components that have been on line for a significant time have been broken into, raided, shut down by DoS (Denial of Service) attacks, or simply gone off line from system failures.

Many of the largest financial and consumer institutions have instead signed up with the Liberty Alliance. The Liberty Alliance allows each participant to keep security and login information on their own servers, rather than on Microsoft's servers.

Does this mean the end of .NET? Certainly not - there's a lot more to it than just My Services. It doesn't even mean the end of My Services, which is being recast as a packaged product for use within corporations. Beyond that, whenever Microsoft meets resistance, they just bring back the same product under a different name, over and over, until they find a formula that succeeds, so watch for the return.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will probably join the Liberty Alliance (which it has been threatening to do) in hopes of corrupting it's aims to make it Windows centric, just as they tried to do with Java. This is made more difficult by the leader of the Liberty Alliance being Sun Microsystems, hardened veteran of the Java wars.

Microsoft not only faces the Liberty Alliance, they face AOL Time Warner, which is working on its own consumer login system. AOL has millions of real user accounts, with real names and real credit card numbers - a lot more impressive than the millions of HotMail and Instant Messaging "identities" with bogus personal data Microsoft Passport has. AOL is a founding member of the Liberty Alliance and will integrate with that system.

- Andrew Grygus

Links

  • The Register - Update - Microsoft accuses industry of Web services hype
  • New York Times - Microsoft Has Shelved Its Internet 'Persona' Service - (login required)
  • InfoWorld - Microsoft's Ballmer: .NET is about integration
  • InfoWorld - Hailstorm rains on the enterprise

©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - www.aaxnet.com - aax@aaxnet.com
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