January 17, 2008

Plaxo and Yahoo now speak OpenID 2.0 together

Yahoo + Plaxo + OpenIDToday marks a tremendously important milestone for believers of an Open Web. Yahoo! has announced it will provide OpenIDs for its nearly 250 Million users, meaning they will all be able to carry their digital identity with them in a secure way and use it to interact richly and securely with sites across the web. In parallel, Plaxo has also just released full support for consuming OpenID 2.0, which means among other things that all those Yahoo! users will be able to join Plaxo and use it to synchronize their data without having to create and manage yet-another-login-and-password. And of course so will the users of any other site that supports OpenID. That’s the great thing about open standards—the more people use them, the better they get.
Having a company as big and important as Yahoo! embrace a grass-roots, open-web standard like OpenID is a major accomplishment and validation. OpenID is now officially a mainstream technology, and the proof is that millions of users will now be able to take advantage of it, without ever knowing what OpenID is, how it works, or that they’re even using it. That’s because OpenID 2.0 (which was finalized late last year) includes a number of security and usability enhancements that will make it “just work” for mainstream users. In addition to the current “sign in with your OpenID” functionality on Plaxo, you will soon see a simple button that says “Sign in with your Yahoo! ID”. When you click this button, you’ll be taken to Yahoo!, where you sign in as you normally do, and you’ll be asked if you trust Plaxo to know who you are. Once you consent, you’ll be taken back to Plaxo, and presto! We create an account for you that’s tied to your Yahoo! account via OpenID. When you want to log into Plaxo, you log in via Yahoo, and Plaxo knows who you are and that you’re logged in, thanks to some cryptographic magic on the backend that you never have to worry about. All you know is “I use Yahoo, and now I can use it with Plaxo too.” That’s what it feels like when open social web technology really works.
And that’s just the start. The reason people are excited about OpenID—and the reason Yahoo! has chosen to embrace it—goes far beyond the convenience of single sign-on. The real power of OpenID is that it’s a key building block for giving users a durable and meaningful digital identity that they can use across the entire web. In an OpenID world, the services you use will really know who you are (because you can prove it with OpenID), and they’ll be able to talk to each other in a rich and secure manner (because you are now the same person to both sites). So, you’ll be able to consolidate your online identity (to the extent you want to, of course) and present a unified view of who you really are. And your friends will do the same. So when we talk about an “open social web” where you can stay in touch with the people you care about even though you’re all using different tools and services, this is what we mean. And this is how it’s going to happen. And today it just got real. If you can’t tell, we’re pretty excited.
=joseph.smarr, chief platform architect

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Redgee Capili

General Manager, Plaxo.com

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  • http://www.ctomkins.co.uk Chris Tomkins

    This is great news, although apparently Yahoo are not going to support people with OpenID’s from other providers (at least initially) which is a bit disappointing. If other providers go down this route then we will all end up with a whole bunch of OpenIDs rather than a whole bunch of user IDs and passwords.

  • http://josephsmarr.com Joseph Smarr

    Chris-I think it’s a chicken-and-egg problem: once there are enough users with OpenIDs, sites will increasingly want to accept them. I think Yahoo’s announcement has just tipped the balance and now sites can justify the work to become a relying party solely on the grounds of “yahoo users will be able to sign up more easily” if not for the larger benefits to come.

  • M.D.

    Isn’t it weird that Plaxo doesn’t even sync with Yahoo anymore? One day it worked great the next day I go back and it is not even an option anymore. And yet they have teamed in other ways and still claim to sync with Yahoo on their (Plaxo) website. Am I missing something?

  • http://www.ctomkins.co.uk Chris Tomkins

    Good point – lets just hope people like Google and Yahoo are next!

  • http://finneycanhelp.myopenid.com Michael Finney

    Yes! That’s great!
    I look forward to when I can use just a single ID such as http://finneycanhelp.myopenid.com (which is real of course).

  • http://nickc321.blogspot.com nick

    While I agree this great news in the world of OpenID… I re-iterate M.D. thoughts… We will soon be able to log into Plaxo with our Yahoo OpenID, but when will we be able to sync again?

  • http://kevinbaggs.com KevinB

    When are you going to start syncing Yahoo again? It’s great you can sync. with their OpenID, but what about bringing back Yahoo as a sync point?