.Net Passport is .Annoying

I wanted to comment on a MSN Spaces blog posting today. Unfortunately, it requires a .Net Passport.

Like many other Mac and Linux types, I’ve always resisted getting one … Microsoft and security and all that. But the thought struck me: I have an account at just about every other web service on the planet. Get over your prejudices and go get that Passport account.

Well. Somebody pinch me and wake me up. Identity management shouldn’t be this hard. .Net Passport is a Microsoft trademarked name that bears significant resemblance to Plug & Play: both are oxymorons.

The first stage (and yes, there are many) starts with way too much information (I don’t want to give Microsoft my email address, or create one with Microsoft) and ends with way too little: the now-ubiquitous prove-you’re-human guess what the squiggly lines mean step:

This is my second chance; I failed the first one. Wonder if I’d pass the Turing test.

That’s minor, though, compared to the next step. It’s titled personal information, and contrary to the name of this whole identity management service, it means what it says. Emphasis on the personal.

Birth date. Gender (they mean sex; there are 3 genders and 2 sexes … well, mostly). OK, I can kind of swallow those.

But occupation? Industry? Job title? Marital status? Children in home?

It seems to me that these questions have a lot more to do with Microsoft’s (or someone’s) ability to classify me as a consumer – a particular level of consumer – and market specifically to me. Sorry, not interested.

I had to cancel – and all I wanted was to post a single comment on an MSN Spaces blog.

I think this is what happens when you have MBAs designing web services. Please, please take a lesson from 37 Signals: only ask for the information you need, when you need it. You can always get more later: if it makes sense. If it’s tied to something your client wants to do.

But if you ask too much, you may not get anything at all.

[tags] microsoft, .Net, Passport, identity, Sxip, MSN, Spaces, john koetsier [/tags]