Ballmer details smart card role in .Net plan
- By IDG News Service, James Niccolai
- Jul 04, 2000
Microsoft Corp. chief executive officer and president Steve Ballmer Thursday
said smart cards will play an important role in Microsoft's .Net initiative,
providing a secure way to access networks and the Internet.
"As we move to a Web-based lifestyle, authentication and security become
critical," Ballmer said, addressing a partisan crowd at the second annual
Smart Card Business Development Conference, which takes place this week
at a Microsoft conference center in Bellevue, Washington.
"Smart cards are an enabling technology in the Microsoft .Net vision, providing
an affordable and effective way to increase the security of computing. We
believe the demand for smart cards is just emerging and will grow exponentially,"
Ballmer said in prepared remarks that were released by Microsoft.
Microsoft .Net is a wide-ranging initiative unveiled last week to provide
development tools, applications and services that will allow companies to
offer new types of services over the Web. Many IT observers see the effort
as an attempt by Microsoft to retain its dominance in the industry, as the
focus of computing moves away from PCs and toward the Internet and other
types of devices.
Smart cards look like credit cards, but they contain a computer chip and
can store information about users. More commonly seen in Europe than in
the U.S., they can be used to provide secure access to computers, computer
networks or buildings.
On Thursday, Microsoft announced that Windows for Smart Card Toolkit 1.1,
with support for the global systems for mobile communications (GSM) telecommunications
standard, will be released to developers "soon." The toolkit will allow
GSM operators and phone makers to create smart card applications, including
commerce applications for their mobile phones.
Sun Microsystems Inc.'s chairman and CEO, Scott McNealy, has been one of
the strongest advocates of smart cards, and Microsoft's Windows technology
is competing with Sun's Java programming language for the attention of smart
The General Services Administration, a U.S. government agency that provides
support services to the federal government, recently made the largest commitment
to smart card technology in the U.S. to date, Ballmer said. The GSA awarded
a contract to five high-tech firms that will be worth about $1.5 billion
during 10 years to provide smart cards for federal workers.
Also at the conference, health care firm Lifestream Technologies Inc. demonstrated
its Privalink system, which uses smart cards to transfer medical records
between doctors and patients or to upload health records on the Web. The
system includes a home cholesterol kit fitted with a smart card reader,
which is awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.