March 06, 2008

Microsoft acquires Stefan Brands (patents and friends)

Interesting news: According to the posts over at identity corner, Microsoft is picking up (some of? all of?) Credentica's patent portfolio, and Stefan Brands himself will join the team.

Quick summary: Stefan Brand's patent portfolio is the "extension" of David Chaum's better known blinding and privacy work into a comprehensive claims-based framework. I don't know how it works, but it does things like reveal age, preferences, gender, and so forth without breaching privacy. That is, it can reveal these things in a way that means no other information can be divined. (It can also do digital cash, and it has some advantages over Chaum's original blinding patents, but I don't recall why.)

Now, it has been pretty clear that this discussion has been going on for a long time. The reason? It's never easy to speculate on how big companies plan to do things, but I would say it like this: Brands technology is being viewed as the next generation CardSpace/InfoCard.

What that means in branding, package, and timeline issues is anyone's guess. The important point here is that CardSpace/InfoCard is Microsoft's first generation of framework where individual / commercial identities can live (nymous versus sold). Later on we'll see Brands technology being used to add interesting things to that.

The significance of this is either huge or its not, we'll know in a few years whether Microsoft are able to do something interesting here. This is not a given. Not because they haven't got the people and other assets to make this happen, but because they've got *all* the people and *all* the assets facing them, and those people and assets don't move easily.

By way of example, you probably saw my mention of nymous identities above. Yes, Microsoft. You already know what that means and don't believe it ... or you don't want it to happen because you don't understand it or you think the sky will fall in. Resistance is huge to new technologies, and, as we saw earlier today, the market for silver bullets is no respecter of sources.

Stefan's technology plus Microsoft's challenge takes this to the point where even *I* don't know what it means, so we are talking about really cracking up the equilibrium, not just shifting a few clicks like EV. (This also makes that Microsoft team the hottest place to work for the next few years in Rights, if not all of FC. Brush up on your CVs, guys.)

Posted by iang at March 6, 2008 02:16 PM | TrackBack
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