There’s one big problem with the growing number of cloud-based applications and platform services, and it’s growing faster than its prospective solutions: They typically handle authentication for their users by themselves. And when they do enable OAuth or another method to share authentication duties between services and sites, their implementations are sometimes cumbersome, and too often users don’t even notice the option.
Ideally, you should only have to log in once: when you begin your session with your PC, tablet or smartphone. The single sign-on (SSO) ideal is not just about user convenience. Implemented correctly, it could prevent a user’s session from being remotely hijacked by a malicious user. Microsoft will be assembling the tools for services to enable some kind of SSO with its upcoming Windows 8. But the viability of those tools will depend not only upon, once again, how well services implement them, but also whether users will trust Facebook, Yahoo, or Microsoft itself to vouch for their identities. Today, there are a multitude of alternative architectures put forth by services opting to be your one source for identity, and ReadWriteWeb has chosen to spotlight three of them.