Confirming my TechCrunch UK story in early January, Microsoft, Verisign, Google and IBM (I just missed out Microsoft) have all now formally announced they will be joining the OpenID foundation, taking seats as the organisation’s first corporate board members.
The Foundation, formed 18 months ago, says it “will not dictate the technical direction of OpenID; instead it will help enable and protect whatever is created by the community.” in other words the foundation will back the OpenID standard with money. Other companies wanting to join the board, rather than be a “community member” will also have to pay for the privilege.
Digg, Technorati, AOL, Plaxo and WikiPedia have previously announced their intention to support the standard which is seen as an easy way for users to use a single digital identity across the Internet. Three weeks ago Yahoo officially jumped on the bandwagon, added its roughly 250 million user IDs, tripling the existing 120 million valid OpenID accounts in one move. The OpenID Foundation has worked feverishly behind the scenes to convince all the major Internet players that a single log-in for their services could increase consumer adoption of new web services and applications. It’s no coincidence that Brad Fitzpatrick, leader of the Google-led OpenSocial project is also widely credited as the creator of the OpenID concept.
Google had already rolled out OpenID support for comments on it Blogger platform back in November. With Google, Microsoft, Verisign, and IBM joining the OpenID movement, the initiative is now firmly on track to become the defacto standard for ‘single-sign-on’ identity online.