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Draft Response to Open Specification Promise

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{{#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 letting Microsoft know what we intend to do to ensure that people will be able to use the code we build. For example, any specific characteristics of the CardSpace™ UI that Microsoft has not announced it is claiming as proprietary, we will assume we can duplicate as part of our efforts to provide a consistent ceremony.

The Open Specification Promise was a significant declaration. We want to encourage any other companies that may hold IP relevant to this initiative to issue their own Open Specification Promise.


The Higgins team is very pleased by the announcement of Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise (

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

We are confident that implementations based on Higgins components will be able to interoperate on UNIX, Linux, and OSX with CardSpace™-compliant STSes as well as provide functional equivalence to CardSpace™ on these platforms.

We declare that 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

We expect to need to tinker and network sniff in order to achieve the above intentions.

The Microsoft Open Specification Promise relates to our declared intention to use WS-* protocols and profiles.

Microsoft has published documents that will help us. We intend to use the information and intellectual property embodied in a number of publicly available documents, such as:

  • Any Tech Reference for InfoCard in Windows.
  • Any Guide to Integrating with InfoCard
  • Any Guide 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
  • Any documentation created for CardSpaceTM Plug Fests.

We intend to practice all inventions and patents required to implement open source identity systems that work with or look like CardSpace. Code and documentation developed in the Higgins project will be licensed under the open source "Eclipse Public License" (EPL).

We will be pleased by agreements that provide rights to any practitioner involved in doing what we intend to do, as declared above. The Microsoft Open Specification Promise of September 12, 2006 is big step in the right direction.

Microsoft can continue to encourage our efforts in many ways. Three of these are:

  • The inclusion in a Microsoft Open Specification Promise of the InfoCard specifications, all 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. This list is both vague and incomplete; Microsoft is in the best position to determine what of their intellectual property we will use as we carry out our declared intention.
  • Continued support from Microsoft, particularly when working with areas of CardSpace that are not fully documented.
  • Clarification of the intended referent 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? Or what does it mean, exactly?)

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