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Response to Open Specification Promise

{{#eclipseproject:technology.higgins|eclipse_custom_style.css}} We have been working on a draft response to Microsoft's historic Open Specification Promise. When we are finished revising this document, we will make it available to Microsoft. We are using this document to formally communicate with Microsoft regarding what further rights we need from Microsoft to fulfill our vision and to allow people to use the code we build. We also want to encourage any other companies that may hold IP relevant to this initiative to issue their own version of Open Specification Promise.


The Higgins team is very pleased by the announcement of Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise ( Higgins is an open source project. We seek to develop an identity selector based on Higgins components that will be able to interoperate on UNIX, Linux, and OSX with CardSpace™-compliant STSes as well as provide functional equivalence to CardSpace™ (which includes InfoCard) on these platforms. Subject to additional needed support from Microsoft and other relevant third parties, including Microsoft’s further license grants and clarifications as detailed herein, the Higgins team intends to participate in the development of systems which will:

  • Create a user interface which shares the same card metaphor, sequences of experiences and decision points (the ceremony) of CardSpace so that the user experience is as similar as possible across platforms.
  • Import and export cards to or from the CardSpace file format
  • Use the CardSpace schemas
  • Use the WS-* protocols and profiles as they are used in CardSpace implementations

Code and documentation developed in the Higgins project will be licensed under the open source “Eclipse Public License” (EPL).

We have been encouraged by Microsoft’s support of efforts to develop an identity selector that runs on other platforms so all users will be able to interoperate with CardSpace™ compliant systems. We recognize the great amount of work required for Microsoft to make this promise. We thank Kim Cameron and Mike Jones for their efforts. The Open Specification Promise represents a major step forward and has generated much good will for Microsoft.

We also thank Pete Rowley of Red Hat, Dale Olds of Novell and the others at companies that worked with Microsoft to accomplish this historic promise.

The Microsoft Open Specification Promise relates to our declared intention to use WS-* protocols and profiles. Microsoft also has published documents that will help us. For example:

  • Tech References for InfoCard in Windows
  • Guides to Integrating with InfoCard
  • Guides to Supporting InfoCard within Web Applications and Browsers
  • Any successor to these documents
  • Windows CardSpace Reference in the Windows SDKs
  • Windows Communication Foundation and CardSpace (MSDN library)
  • Articles in MSDN magazine related to CardSpace
  • Documentation created for CardSpaceTM Plug Fests.

We would like to use the information and intellectual property embodied in these documents. We hope that Microsoft will grant the necessary licenses to allow us to do so. In addition, to accomplish our goal, we may need to practice certain patents related to the implementation of open source identity systems that work with or look like CardSpace. We hope that Microsoft will grant all necessary licenses to such patents to the extent owned or controlled by Microsoft. In sum, in order to accomplish our goals, we need certain additional clarifications and licenses from Microsoft. These include:

  • A promise similar to the Microsoft Open Specification Promise (but including not only patent rights, but other relevant intellectual property rights) with respect to Microsoft’s InfoCard specifications, relevant schemas, the visual components of the card selector user interface, the documentation of all the information needed to implement import and export for all cards including the file format, encryption algorithms, key derivation and additional key materials, seeds, or entropy, any other specifications and any other Microsoft intellectual property which we will be using as we carry out our intentions declared above.
  • Continued support from Microsoft, particularly when working with areas of CardSpace that are not fully documented.
  • Clarification of the intended reference of the phrase, "patents that are necessary to implement only the required portions of the Covered Specification". (Does this mean the Microsoft Open Specification Promise is limited to patents that are necessary to implement those portions of a Covered Specification that are required to be implemented by every implementation claiming conformance to that specification?
  • Microsoft to work with the Higgins project to indentify other Microsoft owned or controlled intellectual property that would be necessary or helpful in fulfillment of our intentions as stated above.
  • Microsoft’s cooperation in working with the Higgins team in obtaining similar promises or licenses from third parties who own or control relevant third party intellectual property.

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