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MS Zone Users Must Use Passport Accounts 451

pathos writes: "CNet reports in this article that Microsoft, in its continued obsession to get everyone and his/her mother to be a registered Passport user, forced all of it's MS Zone gaming site users (including players of 'Asheron's Call') to open accounts in Passport in order to keep using the service... too bad that a bug with their .NET deployment kept many users not being able to access the service..." Of course, if you run the hotel, you get to say who uses the pool ...
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MS Zone Users Must Use Passport Accounts

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  • Hotel pools (Score:5, Funny)

    by Shadowlion ( 18254 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:41PM (#2700713) Homepage
    Of course, if you run the hotel, you get to say who uses the pool...

    Yeah, but you can't control who pees in it.

  • Same as hotmail (Score:3, Informative)

    by interiot ( 50685 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:42PM (#2700717) Homepage
    Why can't users just act the same as they do with Hotmail? Open up separate accounts for different uses, most with false information that can't be tied back to you without a search warrant?
    • Re:Same as hotmail (Score:5, Informative)

      by Blackwulf ( 34848 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:44PM (#2700741) Homepage
      Why can't users just act the same as they do with Hotmail? Open up separate accounts for different uses, most with false information that can't be tied back to you without a search warrant?

      Probably because, in the case of Asheron's Call, they have to have credit card information to bill you with (or they want to use the Passport to bill you instead?) and they need your real information.

      For the free stuff, sure, I understand completely making a different account. But some Zone games are subscription based, so this solution won't work.

      Thank god I don't play any subscription-based Zone games. :>
      • Get one of those prepaid visa cards from the grocery store. "My best friends call me cash."
        • Get one of those prepaid visa cards from the grocery store. "My best friends call me cash."

          Can you really get them at grocery stores? The Visa Buxx FAQ [] says that the cards are issued by individual banks, are usable through ATMs via a PIN you set, etc... is it practical to get a new one of these every once in a while? Are they really completely separate from the rest of your info?

          • Re:Same as hotmail (Score:5, Informative)

            by interiot ( 50685 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @05:11PM (#2700930) Homepage
            Are they really completely separate from the rest of your info?

            Basically, no... TOS []:

            • XII. Disclosure of account information to third parties.

              As a part of establishing this Card account, you will receive with your Card a copy of the Bank of America Privacy Policy for Consumers, which generally addresses Bank of America's policy for handling and disclosing information. You may view this policy at With respect to Your Card account, from time to time, subject to any applicable financial privacy laws or other laws or regulations, We may provide information about You and the Card account: (1) to Chex Systems, Inc. or other account information services; (2) to anyone who We reasonably believe is conducting a legitimate credit inquiry, including, without limitation, inquiries to verify the existence or condition of an account for a third party such as a lender, merchant or credit bureau; (3) in response to any subpoena, summons, court or administrative order, or other legal process which We believe requires Our compliance; (4) in connection with collection of indebtedness or to report losses incurred by Us; (5) in compliance with any agreement between Us and a professional, regulatory or disciplinary body; (6) in connection with potential sales of business; and (7) to carefully selected service providers who help Us meet Your needs by providing or offering Our services. In addition, if You or the Teen agree to provide an electronic mail address for purposes of receiving information regarding possible special merchant offers, We will consider that Your consent to provide that address to such merchants.

          • Hmm, sounds rather like a plain ordinary debit card to me, but a bit creepy. Why would parents want to dig through their children's spending?

            Of course, it's possible to get a Solo debit card (which works like Switch, but is more restricted, no overdraft etc) when you're 16 (or possibly 14, not sure) in the UK. But over here, teenagers don't get parents etc prying into their bank accounts.
          • I can't remember if they're visa or mastercard. They sell them in a pharmacy next door so I'll read the fine print next time I'm there and post it here.

            They're shrink wrapped cards with preset positive balances ($50, $100, like prepaid calling cards). It should be anonymous unless it has to be activated in some way.
  • Resist! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by envelope ( 317893 )
    Resist, I say! Don't sign up for Passport!

    Micros~1 can be stopped, but we all have to work together and resist!

    Passport is essential to the Micros~1 plan for world domination. We can stop it by refusing to participate.

    This thing scares me, really. How long will it be before every Windows user is required to have a Passport account before they can log into their workstation?

    • Re:Resist! (Score:2, Informative)

      How long will it be before every Windows user is required to have a Passport account before they can log into their workstation?

      Not long I imagine. Have you used WinXP? The very first thing it asks when you log in the first time is, "Would you like to associate a .NET Passport account with this user?". Yup, scary.

  • I refuse to allow Microsoft, a company which has been found to have shaky (at best) security practices, to protect my private information on their service. I refuse to allow Microsoft to control my computer with their draconian authentication scheme, which is just a ruse to bolster arbitrary numbers on their annual report. I refuse to purchase any products or services of the Microsoft Corporation.

    I have decided to start boycotting the Microsoft. Please also start, if you care about your rights as a citizen of the 21st century.
    • I have decided to start boycotting the Microsoft. Please also start, if you care about your rights as a citizen of the 21st century.
      Dude, I think most of us are way ahead of you. I was boycotting MS when I cared about my rights as a citizen of the 20th century.

      I have never paid for MS product. Sure, I've used them countless times, buy not a single dollar of mine has gone to the evil empire.
    • by sterno ( 16320 )
      I agree, I try to avoid using microsoft software as much as possible, but perhaps taking this a step further would be more useful. The fact of the matter is that the average person won't boycott microsoft for various reasons. What we need to do is help average computer users learn why they should boycott microsoft and given them what they need to do it.

      What does this translate into? Helping people learn other operating systems. Contributing to software projects that improve the usability of those other operating systems. This does not mean going out a proseletyzing and shouting "Windows sucks!" That sort of approach just makes you look arrogant and turns people off. Until we can get the masses on board, a boycott is nearly useless.
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:43PM (#2700725) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't be amusing if somebody registerred a generic account and released the name/password onto the public?

    Maybe when MS sees 4 million people logged on as $L4$hd0t it'll realize that the people don't want to be uniquely identified in EVERYTHING they do.
  • by pi radians ( 170660 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:43PM (#2700730)
    So when the XBox's online program comes out in 6 months, will the users have to do the same thing? I would assume so. Which is one of the reasons I will never get the XBox and why I shake my head at everyone that did. Tsk, tsk, tsk kids.
    • Which is one of the reasons I will never get the XBox and why I shake my head at everyone that did. Tsk, tsk, tsk kids.

      As patriotic as that sounds, the term "resistance is futile" comes to mind. Joe and Jane Consumer could give a shit. They just want to play their video games, watch Friends on Thursday night, and listen to the Backdoor Boys and Britney Spears. They could care less if that means having an MS Passport, submitting to TV viewing research and using Windows Media Format.

      They DON'T care!

      The problem is that there IS NO ALTERNATIVE. Sure PS2 and GameCube are there now but Xbox is just a friggin' PC. Xbox2 will just be another PC with the latest and greatest video and processor hardware. How can Sony and Nintendo compete with this? They can't... and they will die soon enough for Microsoft. Unless Sun/Apple/Sony/Linux Community get their collective acts together, MS will be the only practical solution.

      In the end, you will have a Passport or you will sacrifice a large chunk of convenience.

      Resistance is futile!
  • Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jathos ( 170499 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:44PM (#2700735) Homepage
    I hate Microsoft as much as the next *nix guy, but this makes sense to me. If you're going to push a single account/password strategy, you need to implement it yourself first.

    If you are going to use Microsoft web services, you have to get used to .NET and Passport. For myself, I'll just continue to choose not to use any Microsoft web services.
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

      by O2n ( 325189 )
      Yes - it makes sense.

      And be assured a lot of other big guys will back Micros~1 on this one - using the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy. I mean, when almost everybody (say, 95% of the people) buying things online will have Passport, who's going to say "you need something else to get my stuff"? You have to have:
      a) big balls;
      b) a somewhat unique product or service;
      c) some nerve

      to try to pull this one.

      Of course there will be (pathetic) alternatives to Passport - just enough that Micros~1 can say "it's a free market, Your Honor...".
  • reverse (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rgf71 ( 448062 )
    Reverse that analogy about the pool:

    If you're staying at my hotel, and swimming in my pool, I want your info.
  • by --daz-- ( 139799 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:44PM (#2700742)
    But the whole point of passport was to provide a single continous logon throughout the MSN suite of web sites.

    Why is any different?
    • Zone is different in that we still have our Zone names. Now I'm fortunate enough to have to remember one for the .Net Passport, one to associate my Zone name to it (once its associated, its just window dressing), and a different name for my Hotmail account. Through the beauty (ha!) of .net, I now have 4 passport logins, so that my hotmail / msn messanger account is in no way attached to my Asheron's Call account (which has a credit card connected to it) or my ISDN account (I used to be a M$ admin in a former life), or my regular Zone account. The beauty of it all is that NOONE can easily get into games - Again Microsuck underestimated the load that thousands of players would have on NT servers. Poor Microsuck. I'm writing them for a credit to my account. Bastages.
    • I have used the zone for a very long time, I have also participated in zone tourneys, and promoted the zone as a gaming environment. The zones move to passport was an incredibly bad move. For one, it does not allow having multiple zone names, the previous one did, and for a gaming environment this is important because many people want to apply unit tags. The old zone system did this very well already and allowed team registration, and changing of names on a whim. This system was better for gaming that the current zone system. I am in a unique position and am able to get in contect with actual zone techs because I know a couple, and the zone was so buggy with the change that I had to get a total of 3 .NET passports before I could get my previous zone name. It took me 2 just to get a zone name, but because of a bug it auto-assigned a random zone name to my account and would not allow me to switch it. many, many, people have had problem, the zone log in has also experienced problems with the very ability to log in. For example when you log into the zone right now, you have a "small" chance of actually being able to log in, and when you do successfully log in, because of errors in the page it will log you out if you hit any links, which kind of hurts the ability to play games, for example when I hit submit after creating this post, instead of posting slashdot logged me out... and not only logged me out, but took 4 minutes of stalling your browser to log out. It gets very old, very quick. The sheer unusable interface, and the fact that all the zone features were previously implemented, and in good working order, the only difference is that you have to have a .NET passport now, there is no added functionality, no added software, just added hassle. I hope that answered your question.
  • by Kozz ( 7764 )
    Actually, Sun has adopted Passport after Microsoft adopted Liberty Alliance. [] And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you...

  • Business sense. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Matt2000 ( 29624 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:45PM (#2700748) Homepage

    Of course, it looks a little different if you consider things from a business perspective. If you're a company that has 7 different login and authentication systems for their wide array of services, and you could centralize that for cost savings, wouldn't you do it? I would.

    The problem with Microsoft is that later down the line someone will say "we should use this massive pile of user data we've got to get volunteers to test our new free brain implants."

    Not everything Microsoft does is evil, it's just usually the last thing that they do that turns everything they've done before evil.
    • And don't forget licensing.


      "Look, we'll make it easy for you to integrate all your authentication into one easy system and we'll even give it to you for free!"

      10 years from now:

      "Our auditing system indicates that your payments for licenses are past due. According to the terms of service we may claim this past due payment in stock, thus giving us majority share of your company."

      A severe exaggeration, but you can bet that Microsoft's need to keep it's growth going will push it to make this all seem so easy and palatable now and will be followed with a big fee in a few years.
    • Of course, it looks a little different if you consider things from a business perspective. If you're a company that has 7 different login and authentication systems for their wide array of services, and you could centralize that for cost savings, wouldn't you do it? I would.

      I sure would. But if i'm after cost savings, don't you think I would pick something based on open standards? I'm not just talking about open source software (which obviously has a lower purchase cost). The maintenance of open standards is much lower. If you think passport is going to play nice with those legacy applications you support, with all the platforms you maintain, etc. If you have 7 different login and authentication systems, you likely have a good variety of platforms to support. Leaving my enterprise-wide authentication in the hands of a company that likes to guarantee recurring revenue by "breaking" older versions and crippling third party players is simply not a good solution.

    • Business senseless. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Erris ( 531066 )
      If you're a company that has 7 different login and authentication systems for their wide array of services, and you could centralize that for cost savings, wouldn't you do it? I would.

      Really? Do you want one key to open all your doors. Do you need the same level of security for advert laden email as you do for real identity protection? Sometimes seperation is a good idea. Sometimes it happens because you bought everyone and were too dumb to fix things as you did it.

      Logic asside, if they do it you would hope that they could use something that worked (what is it, Kerebos?). They has proven incapable of protecting anything, from credit card info to Hotmail to individual PCs []. Who would trust them as they move all their services to the system first used for Hotmail that has been broken already? They should realize that this is just one more reason not to do business with Micro~.

      M$ is evil but, as usual, they are not very good at it.

    • Re:Business sense. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by deebaine ( 218719 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:02PM (#2701277) Journal
      You have described the situation exactly. Lately, say over the past 12-18 months, Microsoft has made several decisions that I regard as outstanding business moves, reminiscent more of the vision of a PC on every desk than of the "what Internet" debacle.

      And not only is this a sensible business decision, but also I'd rather have one login and set of user data, all else being equal. Of course, all else is not equal. A single point of failure demands a level of planning, care, and skill that Microsoft does not have or has not demonstrated in the recent past.

      It is the track record of their implementations of ideas that makes me terribly nervous, not necessarily the ideas and decisions themselves.

  • If you own the hotel, you get to say who gets in the pool...

    Actually, I think that's too small of scope for Microsoft -- they own several small 'countries' and if you want to stay overnight, you now have to stay in a MS Hotel (tm).

    This is totally bogus. When are game manufacturers (in this case) going to realize that they don't have to give up this much control over their userbase? Microsoft could potentially steer users to THEIR games (and I'm sure in many cases already do). More companies need to invest in infrastructure and online services and MS's online empire will start to crumble -- but they need to act fast. Microsoft now has the potential to really have a strangle hold on customers: They now have email addresses (read: 'sales leads') for a BUNCH of folks.

    • They now have email addresses (read: 'sales leads') for a BUNCH of folks.

      Nooooo!!! Not <gasp> E-MAIL ADDRESSES!!!!

      Dude, get a clue already. How many games have you bought because someone sent you an email?

  • Are you surprised? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rick the Red ( 307103 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:46PM (#2700756) Journal
    This is not news. News is if Micro$oft ever announces that Passport accounts are no longer required to access one of their sites.


    Microsoft will block access to unless you have a Passport account.

    When that happens, Slashdot will report it as 'news'.

  • by gopherdata ( 228790 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:46PM (#2700757) Homepage
    I've never played any games in the "MS Zone" so I may be way off base here. I assume you have to have a "MS Zone" account to play the games, what's the big deal about having a passport account instead? Whether Microsoft wants to keep seperate logins to all of their services, or one login that works everywhere doesn't much seem to matter. I don't like the idea of MS pushing Passport as some internet wide login system, but for their own sites I think it makes sense (aside from the security holes).
    • by Rick the Red ( 307103 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:55PM (#2700820) Journal
      I assume you have to have a "MS Zone" account to play the games, what's the big deal about having a passport account instead?
      It's a privacy thing. If you have a MS Zone account and you access some other site, that other site doesn't know who you are, let alone that you have a MS Zone account. Now, if you instead have a Passport in order to play at the MS Zone and go to that same other site, if they use Passport too then that other site not only knows who you are they know where you live and your phone number and your ISP and your credit card number(s) and any other info M$ has managed to collect about you. This may ease checkout at their online store, but if you're not there to buy anything why would you want them to know all this?

      It remindes me of Tandy's long-bankrupt Incredible Universe, which wouldn't let you in the the door without a credit check. Hmm, I wonder why they're no longer in business?

    • The BIGGEST deal is that Microsoft wasn't able to scale to the task at hand. Originally, they had a login association field of 10 characters, wheras the Zone allowed logins of up to 16 characters. Whoops, didn't see that coming.

      As a player of Asheron's Call, I have to say - its a slick game. I've invested about 2 years into my character, and I love her. Now with Microsuck screwing up the whole passport connection, I had to go 2 whole days without AC. That may not sound like much, but I have an addiction problem. I had to load up the Sims to get my fill of meddling with people's lives.
  • I love Age of Kings, and playing on line is a trillion times better than playing the computer. Now I need a damn Passport account? That really blows.
  • TOS? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ryanr ( 30917 ) <> on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:48PM (#2700770) Homepage Journal
    And if I violate the ToS for any Microsoft service, do I get my passport pulled so that I can no longer access my Hotmail account or anything else that requires it?
    • Re:TOS? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Syberghost ( 10557 ) <syberghost@sybergho[ ]com ['st.' in gap]> on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:54PM (#2700813) Homepage
      Exactly. This is why you have to make a decision:

      Either use Microsoft for EVERYTHING, or for NOTHING.

      There just isn't much of a middleground anymore. Either take the plunge, wipe Linux off your drives, and surrender all your data (personal and PC) to Microsoft, or don't use them for ANYTHING at all.

      Get rid of that Windows gaming partition, and just run Linux games. Or don't bitch when Microsoft bends you over like this. It's their service, you agreed to that when you signed up. Even if you signed up with Hotmail before Microsoft bought it, you still agreed to follow Hotmail's terms of service, including updates, and it's been updated.

      There are still pockets of things you can do with Microsoft software that don't suck you into the whole mess (such as using Windows 98 for those games), but eventually it's all going this way. Eventually you won't be able to run any of the new games on Win98, and you'll have to make the choice; and when it comes, it'll be a Microsoft product that requires Passport in order to function.

      Make your choice, and don't bitch if Microsoft changes the rules after you've agreed to a contract allowing them to. You're a free human being, you make your choices and you live with the consequences.
      • Eventually you won't be able to run any of the new games on Win98, and you'll have to make the choice

        I dunno, I can't see... John Carmack for instance, falling for this shit.

    • Nope, just sign up for a seperate Passport account for each of the services you use. That way if you get yanked from one, it shouldn't affect all of the others.

      It's no worse that managing the multiple logins for multiple MS services that you might be doing right now.
  • by Xenopax ( 238094 ) <(xenopax) (at) (> on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:49PM (#2700772) Journal
    I know we've said this before, but whenever Passport allows access to everyone bank account and stock portfolio the Passport servers will the the target of every black-hat hacker on the planet. And you know that script kiddies will be blasting it constantly with DOS attacks.

    I'm sure MS will have excuses for why it happened to, like published security holes and such. But it will be their fault for leaving so much critical information linked to one account.

  • Shame.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DeMorganLaw ( 543089 )
    I used to do a lot of gaming over the zone a few years back. Was probably the only Microsoft service that I ever liked. Damn shame, now ill never use the Zone again. Anyone up for an Open Source solution to the Zone?
  • Terms of Service (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sterno ( 16320 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:53PM (#2700804) Homepage
    Here's a question for people to ponder. What happens if I violate the terms of service of Passport or any attached property of Microsoft? Or more to the point, what happens if Microsoft mistakenly thinks I did but I didn't (like if I was hacked, etc). It seems that as Passport is further extended, this has a greater and greater impact on my ability to do things on-line. What if my bank uses passport? What if I communicate with my doctor through a passport secured site? If I get booted from passport for whatever reason, there could be some serious personal ramifications, and there's noreal recourse for me because I clicked the little "I Accept" button.

    I grant you this is a little out there and paranoid, but I think that if passport does become a very fundamental part of on-line authorization systems, this could become a potential problem
    • If you communicate with your doctor via a passport secured site, and you are concerned about being blocked, hacked etc. then perhaps you should pick up the phone and call him. Sounds like I'm trolling, but seriously - if you don't feel comfortable with a situation then avoid it. This is an avoidable situation, where for many the convenience is outweighed by the risks. If your bank uses passport, and you don't like it, then don't sign up for their online services or switch banks. It is no different than not agreeing with or feeling comfortable with the terms of service of a non-passport enabled service. If consumers who do not feel comfortable with a service continue to use the service anyway, businesses will not adapt in any way.
  • by A_Non_Moose ( 413034 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @04:56PM (#2700823) Homepage Journal
    From the article:
    "It's a difficult task, but other companies have done it--Starbucks just switched their old log-in system to Passport and did it smoothly."

    "It's kind of surprising," Rosoff added. "If anyone should be able to implement a Passport switch, it's Microsoft."

    That is hilarious: The staffers at a coffee house that, no doubt, keep MS programmers in caffinated beverages, can implement MS's own stuff better than MS can.


    Do you think maybe we should send MS some penguin mints? Oh, wait, belay that...probably most here would consider that aid and comfort to the enemy.

  • MS Zone Users Must Use Passport Accounts.

    Of course. Passport is built nicely into XP. This will be their next step in taking over the world. Why not put it into something that is BUILT IN to Windows eXpect Problems? Programs => Games => Internet [Hearts,Checkers,Spades]

    With the prospect of wireless access, we need something to identify us - but only when we decide to be identified and only to the person we decide to be identified to.

    Think about this, you go around town with your laptop. You can connect to a wireless network of some type and shape. Now just like real life, you may be asked for your ID, or some sort of information that will identify yourself to the person or business asking. If you refuse - you don't get what you want either. So lets take this same idea into 'cyberspace' - and don't REQUIRE yourself to be ID'ed

    If you want to beat M$ out of this spot of domination - not only do we need to support and back another method of identification, we need to beat them in the content wars.

    M$ web sites and services sometimes are pretty, but they lack in content. Stray from doing business with sites [] that back Passport. Don't use HoTMaiL, don't use MSN Zone - but more importantly inspire or create content that will challenge M$ content because they are the last company we want to control this idea.

  • After a brief brush with "UNIX security is not the be-all end-all", we're back to good ol' Microsoft bashing in-depth.

    I was worried for a minute there.

  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @05:01PM (#2700858)
    This has nothing to do with rights. Well, it does, but it has to do with Microsoft's rights. They have a right to use whatever authentication system for their web pages that they choose.

    You, as the average internet consumer do not have a right to access some companies pages without using the access mechanism that they choose. You do have a right to not grace that company with your business, though.

    Really, can someone explain to me all of the mis-directed righteous indignation at Microsoft over this? It's a non-issue. If you don't like what MS has done with the Zone...tough. Just go play elsewhere.
    • I was about to post the same, when I saw this message.

      Your Rights Online? WTF?

      As Quarters said, nobody is forcing you to use Passport..If you disagree with the idea of Passport, don't use the Zone. Last time I read it the US Constitution (and I'm sure the founding documents of all other countries) didn't grant anyone the right to play Asheron's Call without signing up for a Passport account.

      The only way this would be a rights issue, and then corporate more than individual, is if Microsoft were NOT allowed to make such decisions about properties that it fully owns.

    • If Microsoft is a monopoly such that users do not have a meaningful choice, their policies may affect Your Rights Online.
      • There are plenty of places to get free email. And as far as playing games you know which online service it uses when you buy it. For example it says on the box that Diablo and Starcraft only use battlenet and Lucasarts games use MS Zone. If you don't like it don't buy the game or play on a LAN with friends.
    • ... if all the grocery stores in your city required Passport? How about the phone company or electric utility?
    • by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:32PM (#2701456) Homepage Journal
      Today, it's about playing M$ games or not. Big Deal, right?
      Someday you'll understand.
      It might be on Tax day, when you realize that you can "choose" to pay your taxes on line (for free, and get your return quickly) using Passport, or you can "choose" to pay the filing fee and wait six months for the return, but not use Passport.
      It might be on Election Day, when you can "choose" to vote electronically, from your desktop, and for the Incumbent Party using Passport, or you can "choose" to take time off from work, stand in line at the polling place (in the bad neighbor hood, in the rain) and vote anonymously for the party of your choice.
      It might be when you take your car in for an oil change, and "choose" to pay with your Passport-linked credit card, knowing full well that the next time you go on-line every pop-up add will tell you about the neat accessories available for your "2004 Dreadnought SUV" (except for tinted windows, 'cause you already got those) or how 'old' a car with 21,294.6 miles is...
      Perhaps Graduation day, when you realize that without a Passport, your shcool won't make a transcript available on-line to potential employers. Of course they can still request one by mail, but that may take up to six weeks, and the job offer may not wait that long...
      That's what 'monopoly' means, really. It means a condition exists under which a choice which you would otherwise have (or expect to have) does not exist.
      Monopolies in themselves are not absolutely bad. In some cases they are naturally occuring, in others they are necessary and beneficial.
      But in cases where a company (which, by definition, exists only to make a profit for it's shareholders) can leverage a monopoly to their own benefit and in a way which could destroy the checks and balances we've carefully constructed in other areas, there is due cause to be concerned.
      And when that company has a history of abusing prior monopoly advantage, the cause for concern is even more justified.
      And when that company can exercise "root access" control of the computers we are expecting to be serving us and making decisions which should only consider the costs and benefits to us, and won't allow us to even look at the source code to verify that our personal information isn't being sent against our will, it becomes a critical concern.
      Did you really think Microsoft would come right out and say "we're doing this to remain profitable, and we don't care how many other business we have to bankrupt to do it?" Of course not. This is just about games. It's always just about games, right up until it isnt.
    • Really, can someone explain to me all of the mis-directed righteous indignation at Microsoft over this?

      I think this is an appropriate post under this topic. Yes, MS should and will use whatever authentication scheme they want, and if you use their services you need to agree to understand that. However, in order to decide whether or not to use Passport (or buy an MS game title, or whatever) one needs to be informed of the ramifications of that choice.

      That's the sort of thing I read these posts for. I personally dislike Microsoft's business tactics, but it's hard for me to justify either to myself or others why their products and services shouldn't be used unless I have a valid argument. Even though "MS bashing" tends to get out of hand here, for the most part the top moderated comments provide valid arguments.

      So, from this article I now know that in order to play MS games online I'll need to give them personal information by signing up for Passport. I like AoE, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my privacy to play it. Privacy issues definitely belong under the "Your Rights Online" topic.
    • This, unfortuneately, has everything to do with Rights. Yes, Microsoft can do whatever it pleases with it's properties but the issue is what happens when everyone is using Passport.

      What happens when every internet-based company and thier brother starts requiring passport, because they need to integrate with Microsoft or someone else? What's going to happen when it get's to the point that to get anything done on the net, you are fairly well required to be subscribed to Passport? That's a corporation - an artificial entity with no greater motive than profit - taking away my right to choose and remain anonymous. That will never sit well with me, and I am certainly not ashamed of my indignation.
  • Admitting this is news is admitting that MS has web services people should care about.

    Personally, I'm much more concerned about Oracle's national ID cards. As was demonstrated at BlackHat, Oracle is not "unbreakable".
  • Sun requires you register before downloading software. As well as Oracle. Yahoo requires you register for it's customized services. And virtually all message boards require you to register before posting. Some even to browse. So what is the big deal if MS wants to have one universal log in for all of it's online properties? Yahoo requires you to have 1 login for all of it's features.
  • Stinks of a Monopoly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Erore ( 8382 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @05:11PM (#2700926)
    I thought you weren't allowed to use a monopoly in one area to create a monopoly in another area?

    How is it that Microsoft is able to take it's monopoly in Office Suites and require you to create a Passport account in order to register them? Isn't that just creating a monopoly in online Registration?

    Once everyone has been forced to register their Office and Windows with Passport, why whould they bother to register with another service? It is just like bundling the browser, only this time they are bundling the online registration.

    It's crap of the highest order. It is even worse than the monopoly movie theatres have on food and drink. They state that you cannot bring in outside food or drink and make you pay extortionist prices for the crap that they do offer. It is not a free choice, in the sense that I went there for the movie, not food, but if I want food with my movie I have to pay out the whazoo. This would only be fair if I had the choice of brining in outside food and drink.

    Same thing for amusement park food pricing.
    • What the hell does passport have to do with office suites? Passport started life as MS Wallet. And it's the movie theaters' property. Just like some people don't let friends eat and drink in their cars, movie theaters don't let others bring in food from the outside. It's their property. Selling food and bevarages are part of their business model. If you don't like it open your own movie theater or wait for the DVD.
      • If you have recently installed a retail version of Microsoft Office XP you would know that it requires the creation of a MS Passport account. That is what Office Suites have to do with Passport.

        I'm well aware of Passport's past.

        As for the movie theatre reference, learn to recognize humor.
  • Implementing Microsofts Passport on Microsofts Zone... oh the travesty!

    as soon as EBAY requires you to use passport, then it will be noteworthy...
  • by aralin ( 107264 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @05:14PM (#2700950)
    So when I do not agree with terms of service of Passport, can I return Asheron's call since I cannot play it now? I want my money refunded.
  • This is scary... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Deltan ( 217782 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @05:21PM (#2700994)
    Being a former manager at the Zone, I can honestly say this is a scary concept. While I was there, we desperately tried to resist even becoming a part of MSN, alas the powers that be just wheeled the Zone like any other product and made us a part of MSN.

    Microsoft already tracks user information through the use of their Zone software. So much information, that it's almost like the Windows XP product activation. They ban users from their service based on a unique key generated by the Zone software that analyzes your hardware.

    Slap this in with the fact that you use a credit card to access Asheron's Call and other premium services, they've got a good start on a personal profile for you.

    They know what your system is made up of, they know your credit card number, they know your visiting habits, and if you use hotmail, they have your email by the proverbial balls. Short of owning your home, they own your online presence indefinitely. In the future if they integrate Passport with XBox, they'll be able to track your game habits, how many wins, losses even your game chats.

    Chalk one up to MS for squeaking this one in on the Zone. I bet they resisted it with their very last bit of will power.
  • Problems with MS-Software?

    Don't even think about contacting Microsoft Tech Support [] without a Passport!
  • Rants and Rants (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @05:24PM (#2701010) Journal
    Jerry Pournelle [] has a nice rant about his experience on his personal site (Semiblog/daybook) which is just too priceless to leave just there:
    Wednesday 12 December 2001

    Microsoft .NET Passport may not be a killer app, but it looks good to kill internet commerce.

    For a thoroughly frustrating and miserable experience, try logging on to Microsoft .NET Passport with a 28.8 dialup system. I have yet to manage it and I have wasted the better part of an hour in two half-hour attempts, one in the middle of the night, the other at about noon, PST.

    It takes many screens, and each screen is full of ads calling to another server; the result is interminable waits. If this is the future for Microsoft, that company is in REAL trouble.

    Five attempts to log on to Asheron's Call have yet to get me past the .NET passport login attempt, and only one of them got me that far. The rest is a tangle of page errors. My system is an XP Pentium IV so I doubt that it is my hardware that's at fault. Microsoft had better stick to something it understands, because as a consumer service company it really sucks.

    If there is anyone from Microsoft paying attention to this, I'd sure like some advice. HOW do you manage to work with this? Sometimes I get "cannot find server" errors. Other times it looks to find things, but all it returns is a blank page. Once, one glorious time, it offered to log me in! But then when I did, I got a 'cannot find server' error as a return. Earth calling Microsoft: if this is your idea of ecommerce, you would do better to invest in sanitary landfills.

    Now I have a login screen -- it says "done" at the bottom -- and the screen is entirely blank. It is clear that Asheron's Call is unplayable for me with my 28.8 dialup. I can't even manage to get to the .NET Passport login. Ah well. Thank you Microsoft.

    The problem here seems to be the Casino ads and another such things: they take so long to load that you never actually see the screen you are trying to load, and eventually it all times out. This is as stupid a design as I have ever seen. Thank you, Microsoft, for as miserable an hour as I have spent with the Web.

    Meanwhile Everquest may be working again. At least they try. But I think the Microsoft thing is unusable until I have fast enough connections that I can live with those stupid animated advertisements that Microsoft makes you endure just to get to the log-in (which I have yet to manage).


    Still trying to get to Asheron's Call. When you click "PLAY" there is a 3 minute download, that often results in a page error. It is a very busy page but it wants you to connect to .NET Passport before you can start a ZONE.COM account. That never works. Each attempt takes several minutes, most of the time being spent waiting for animated ads to download from busy servers.

    Microsoft is clearly interested only in those with LOTS of bandwidth. No others need apply.

    Everquest, on the other hand, takes about 45 seconds to connect to the main server and about 3 minutes to get logged on, at 28.8, and plays quite well once there.

    So much for .NET

    [...] Eric says Microsoft just went to the .NET Passport business for their ZONE games, and things are really fouled up, but it ought to be temporary Fine. But with the satellite or without, I cannot manage to SIGN IN TO THE .NET so I cannot sign up for a zone passport so I cannot play Asheron's Call. I presume that applies to everyone else trying to get into the game. Those who previously were set up apparently can mange. The rest of us can wait for Microsoft to get its act together.

    They had something working, so they decided to fix it. Brilliant of them. One day they will get it fixed, but my confidence in .NET has been reset to VERY LOW. If they can't manage games, why would I believe they can make things easy for software developers? Can't find the login servers. Well, well, well.

    And some of the mail he has received is not much better.
    Microsoft woes: Seems to be yet another application of Sturgeon's Law and Hanlon's Razor. I doubt there are people sitting in Redmond going "how can we lose more customers today?" :) eon's-Law.html n's-Razor.html


    Subject: Passport.

    "Microsoft .NET Passport may not be a killer app, but it looks good to kill internet commerce."

    Currently Passport cannot talk to me. I have had a particular primary email address for three years. Sometime in those three years, I set up a passport account tied to it, but obviously no longer remember my password. Microsoft cannot reset the account and reissue a new password to that address. They cannot set up a new passport account because they only allow one account tied to a particular email address. Their only suggestion was that I ditch my long-standing email account and create a new hotmail for the purposes of talking to passport. I don't *WANT* a new email address. I've had three email addresses in twelve years and I like to present stability in the internet maelstrom.

    Until Passport comes up with a WORKING way to reset a password on an account, or to build a new account at an email address that they've already heard of, I cannot use them for any internet commerce.

    It is impossible to ascribe any of this to malice, but can anyone be this incompetent?

    Of Course. this is not a bug, but a feature.

    Reminds me of websites I have found that were optimized for 1600x1200 resolution.

  • by Joao ( 155665 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @05:30PM (#2701053) Homepage
    I had to register several copies of MS software for my office some time ago, and since then I've been receiving a whole lot of newsletters from them. So I followed their instructions on how to unsubscribe, and went to

    Guess what? In order to unsubscribe from their spam, I need to sign up for Passport.

    So I set up a procmail filter.
  • MS will make setting up a passport account part of installing Windows.

    probably won't let you begin copying files untill you set one up. and as for OEMs, they will force the users to set up passport before the computer becomes usable.
  • by Sebbo ( 28048 ) <sebbo@seb[ ]org ['bo.' in gap]> on Thursday December 13, 2001 @05:37PM (#2701105) Homepage Journal
    I have Bejewelled [] open in another Mozilla window right now, and I don't have a passport account. It would seem that the change is a bit less extensive than CNet (and Slashdot) seems to be saying.
  • How to screw MS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JohnDenver ( 246743 )
    If you guys really hate MS, then you should use the service, just...

    1. Don't give them any real information. Ex:
    a. You live in Afganistan
    b. Give them a junk Yahoo email that you use to sign up with other services.
    2. Never use passport for any other purpose than authentication for your bogus account.
    a. Contacts
    b. Wallet
    c. You get the point
    3. NEVER PAY for passport. If they ever decide they want to force people to pay for it, simply do like everybody else and opt out.

    If you think like a cheap bastard, then MS will never get thier grips on you.

    If anybody has other any other ideas, or PLAUSIBLE scenerios on how MS can screw you even if you adhere to these rules, then feel more than free to reply.
  • by Richard5mith ( 209559 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:38PM (#2701491) Homepage
    Everybody always likes to jump down Microsoft's throat every time they try and breathe. But please, stop for a second and get a grip on reality.

    Keeping up with the usernames and passwords for every account I have is a complete nightmare. I have hundreds of them, I can't remember them all, its nuts. Passport solves that problem by giving me one password to go along with my email address (that's my normal email address, not a Hotmail address).

    Now everybody seems to have plenty downsides to this convienence, most of which are uninformed rubbish (a site using passport doesn't suddenly get all my information, they only get the information I want them to have for instance) - some of it important (if I break the terms of use, I get cut off all sites). But does anybody have a better method of solving the multiple account problem?

    Sun are going to have all the same issues with theirs, so is anybody else trying to do the same thing. They're all going to be the target of every script kiddie under the sun, they're all going to have terms of use that can be broken and you use access to them all, they'll all have the problem of being hacked and the hacker getting your information for all sites. Other companies won't be invulnerable to these problems just because they aren't Microsoft. And don't think that Microsoft aren't going to get all the best security they can on these things either, they're not THAT dumb (not when they're business really depends on it that much).

    So how do you propose these problems are solved?
    • So how do you propose these problems are solved?

      What problem? That you can't remember your own passwords? That justifies the titanic investment in infrastructure that Microsoft is making, along with Sun, and everyone else who is throwing their hat into this ring?

      I doubt any of them are trying to solve the same, simple problem you want them to solve. How would solving it contribute to their bottom line? Think about it. Has Microsoft ever done anything that didn't reflect their desire to increase the bottom line? Why do you think they are spending a massive amount of money on .Net? Just so you don't have to remember many passwords? I think that's a very silly idea on its face.

      But I am sure that they will continue to promote the idea that that are trying to solve that simple problem of multiple accounts and passwords. After all, who could object to that?
    • So how do you propose these problems are solved?

      Oh, I dunno... How about an open, documented trust protocol so that more than one trust authorizer could be established? How about having the trust authorizer legally liable for any financial damage cause by their mismangement of trusted information? Have the providers establish bonds or insurance to cover this.

      How about extending the current trust infrastructure into the digital domain rather than handing off to one company on a silver platter?

      Oh yeah, I forgot... This is America 2001 - private is good, public is bad. Sorry for the slip up. I promise it won't happen again.

  • by nick_burns ( 452798 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @06:46PM (#2701529)
    All of us who do not like Microsoft obviously do not want .NET and passport to prevail. We have a shot against .NET because there are many alternatives coming out. However, there is no technology competing with passport right now. Microsoft is forcing people who want to use their services to sign on.

    Let's consider for a moment how Microsoft has tried to take on the instant messenger market. They've bundled MSN messenger with Windows XP, but many people already have been using ICQ or AIM for years. They won't bother signing up for MSN messenger because they wouldn't be able to talk to their buddies on the other services. But with Passport, there is no alternative around. Sure people may reluctantly sign up for it, but once they have it, they've already gone through the painful process of giving away information. Now they'll be more likely to use other passport services.

    But we don't have a good competitor for passport because close to 100% of the slashdot readers, and *nix people in general, don't like the idea of passport. If we don't like the idea, then we won't bother implementing it. Maybe there should be a movement for a competitor to passport. You don't have to use it immediately, or at all. I highly doubt Bill Gates has his credit card number sitting out on those oh so vulnerable .NET servers.
  • by PineGreen ( 446635 ) on Thursday December 13, 2001 @07:02PM (#2701605) Homepage
    only to be told:

    Unfortunately, Microsoft® .NET Passport does not support the Web browsing software you are using. Please use supported browsing software such as Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4.0 or later, or Netscape Navigator versions 4.08-4.82.

    If you use Netscape Navigator 6.1: due to possible data security issues, you cannot currently access .NET Passport using Netscape Navigator 6.1. We take security seriously and are working with Netscape to resolve these issues as soon as possible so that .NET Passport can support Netscape Navigator 6.1. Until that time, please use supported browsing software. We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

    Quite amazing.
  • Opting out (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday December 14, 2001 @01:41AM (#2703071) Homepage
    I don't subscribe to any Microsoft Passport services because they insist on being relieved of liability for their mishandling of my personal information.

    I don't rent videos from Blockbuster because they insist I waive my rights under the Video Rental Privacy Act.

    I don't buy from Amazon because they now insist I "register" before buying.

    It's getting hard to spend money.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"