Hubris – Definition: Microsoft's Passport

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Before September of 1995, Microsoft ignored the Internet because their 16-bit Windows 3.1 operating system could not handle the 32-bit Internet world. With the introduction of Windows 95, Microsoft decided they owned the Internet.

Instead of having separate accounts at dozens of websites, Microsoft decided that you will have one master account that you will use to log in everywhere. That account will contain your credit card number, bank account numbers, all your personal information and financial records, and Microsoft will own that account.

Well, Microsoft IS the United State's government condoned monopoly, so 200 million Internet users, and 100 major web companies dutifully signed up for Microsoft's Passport wallet service.

In 1999, Internet authorities discovered Microsoft's passport service had numerous security holes, and hackers could steal your personal information. In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission admonished Microsoft for not adhering to their own privacy policy. In 2003, Microsoft purged all the financial records from its Passport servers.

Millions of users continue to sign up for Passport because of the convenience it offers. Nearly 100 websites use Passport as their authentication method. Users do not need to remember separate usernames and passwords for each website. They can log in to all of them using a single email address. Some of the websites let you register without a Passport accont, but others, Microsoft owned websites especially, require you to have a Passport account.

If you sign up for Microsoft Network (MSN) or for a free Hotmail email account, you will be forced to sign up for Microsoft's Passport wallet service. You can sign up for a Passport account with a non-Microsoft email account Microsoft at's Passport website.

To sign up, you need only an email address and a password. After you sign up, you can choose to add personal information to your profile. Then you can indicate if you want to share your information with companies that use Passport. If you choose to share your personal information, be aware that Microsoft shares it with every passport website you visit, and those websites are not required to adhere to Microsoft's privacy policy.

The Internet does not need a master account repository for users personal information. Users do not need to remember separate usernames and passwords for each website. Every Internet user has memorized two or three different email addresses and half a dozen different passwords that they use everywhere.

If an Internet master account repositiory is desired, it should NOT be owned or operated by Microsoft. A repository of personal account information must be operated by an honest, independent company.

Note: In April 2000, US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft violated two sections of the 1890 Sherman Act. He concluded that Microsoft was an illegal monopoly that used anti-competitive means to maintain its dominance in Intel-based operating systems.

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