Microsoft pushes smart card vision

Microsoft Corp. last week outlined plans to spur Windows-based development

of smart cards and released an update to Windows for Smart Cards that includes

a standard popular in Europe and Asia.

As proof that the technology is catching on, company officials pointed

to the General Services Administration's recent 10-year, $1.5 billion contract

to deploy cards with Microsoft partners KPMG Consulting LLC, Litton/PRC

Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corp., 3-G International Inc. and Logicon

Inc.

The most popular wireless standard in the United States is Code Division

Multiple Access (CDMA). However, the Windows update includes the Global

Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard, the key feature of which

is the Subscriber Identification Model (SIM) card, which lets users be identified

by any GSM phone.

The Windows for Smart Cards Toolkit 1.1 includes SIM Explorer and SIM

Outlook, which Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer called the first

"killer app" for GSM phones.

Smart cards have not taken off in the United States, compared with Europe

and Asia.

"Cards, until very recently, did not have the ability to be programmed,"

Microsoft product manager Mike Dusche said. "They have to be very small — 5 millimeters by 5 millimeters

for the chip — and that chip didn't allow for writing programs."

Dusche pointed to the smart cards issued to Microsoft employees for

network and security access. Used for functions such as paying for cafeteria

food and building access, the cards sport 64K of memory and an 8-bit microprocessor,

roughly the same as the first generation of PCs, Dusche said.

Copyright 2000, InfoWorld. Distributed by IDG News Service.

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