Google and Microsoft to throw their weight behind OpenID

While it is not a slam dunk yet, both Microsoft and Google recently announced plans to act as provider’s for OpenID authentication.  This news means 3rd party sites supporting OpenID can direct their users to a login page on Microsoft or Google; parse the return request to verify their identity, and pull out any profile information such as real name or email supplied by the user.  Illusrated below:

OpenID signin with Google (credit Google Inc.)

OpenID signin with Google (credit Google Inc.)

Yahoo! has been an early addoptor supporting OpenID for a number of months now.  It commissioned some research into the usability aspects of signon using OpenID, demonstrating that users were confused when having to input a URL http://me.yahoo.com/username instead of the more traditional username@yahoo.com.  Users appear comfortable with clicking a specific ‘Sign in with Yahoo’ button, however this won’t scale with the number of OpenID providers available today (popular ones being Yahoo/Google/MS Live/AOL).  

It will be interesting to see how the interface for OpenID pans out; Perhaps a URL derived from an email may be a feasible alternative if all top level domains conformed to pattern eg: “openid.provider.com/username”.