I spoke this morning to Paul Mackinnon and Steve Plank at Microsoft, about Information Cards and CardSpace. CardSpace is part of .NET Framework 3.0 and higher. It enables uses to authenticate on web sites by presenting a virtual card, instead of typing in a username and password.
The CardSpace concepts strike me as sound, but as far as I can tell adoption has been minimal. I expressed my frustration; why is it that 18 months after the 1.0 release even Microsoft is not using it to any noticeable extent? I still see username/password dialogs whenever I need to sign into a Microsoft property like MSDN subscriptions or Live Mesh. Actually there is a beta service which lets you sign in with CardSpace – but I believe my point is still valid – how many people even know about this?
I was told that it is still early days and that we will hear more about the Live ID service when it comes out of beta. Mackinnon also mentioned that Microsoft is working on a native code client for CardSpace. Currently users need at least .NET Framework 3.0 which is a huge download and can be problematic. A native code client will be a small download with few dependencies. There is no firm date for release, though it is at least a year away (maybe previews before then).