Yahoo said Tuesday that it plans to support the OpenID 2.0 single sign-on framework and bring its 248 million users to the Web's interoperability party.
When it comes to frameworks like OpenID my eyes typically glaze over. Why? Success or failure depends on getting massive players on board. It's herding cats to a degree.
But Yahoo got my attention since Yahoo Mail is my primary account. Instantly, Yahoo triples the number of OpenID accounts. As a user, OpenID has just gone from this concept to something that may work for me. Suddenly, I, along with a millions of other Yahoo users, ask "what's in OpenID for me?"
The main benefit is that I can consolidate my Internet identity--something that conceptual sounded swell yet somehow unrealistic. Now Yahoo makes things much more realistic.
Yahoo plans to launch a public beta on Jan. 30. In a statement, Yahoo said:
Yahoo!'s initial OpenID service, which will be available in public beta on January 30, enables a seamless and transparent web experience by allowing users to use their custom OpenID identifier on me.yahoo.com or to simply type in "www.yahoo.com" or "www.flickr.com" on any site that supports OpenID 2.0. Alternatively, web sites that accept OpenID 2.0 will be able to add a simple "Sign-in with Your Yahoo! ID" button to their login pages that will make it even easier for their users. Yahoo! is working with several partners, including Plaxo and JanRain, to make it possible for users to access these sites with their Yahoo! ID from the first day of the public beta.
With Yahoo's move it's highly likely that other players will get on board. As the Techmeme crowd notes: Yahoo's move is big.
Yahoo said that it finalized its plans with the OpenID foundation in December to improve security and usability. Security was a big reason Yahoo chose to not endorse OpenID 1.0. One thread:
Yahoo! users who log in with their Yahoo! ID on OpenID sites will have the added protection of Yahoo!'s sign-in seal wherever they go on the web. In addition, no email or IM addresses are revealed or disclosed as part of the login process, which further helps protect users from phishing or other attacks.
That security angle is critical to get users on board along with developers (see Yahoo developer page on OpenID). However, the most important thread is the interface.
But ease of use will be critical if Yahoo is going to turn support into actual conversions for OpenID.