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Mozilla targets developers as it pushes its OpenID-competitor, BrowserID

Mozilla's BrowserID
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It’s early in the new year and Mozilla is already giving its OpenID-competitor, BrowserID, a major push into the developer limelight.   In a blog post published yesterday Mozilla announced that its developer websites, Mozilla Apps Developer Preview, Firefox Affiliates, Mozillians, Mozilla Add-On Builder, and Mozilla Developer Network (MDN), have all been upgraded to use the decentralised login system.

Mozilla's BrowserID

With BrowserID Mozilla wants to make it easier and safer for users to be able to manage their multiple online accounts.  To use BrowserID users will have to create an account with Mozilla, then when they log into another website the BrowserID system will be used to authenticate their session.

BrowserID (#browserid ) was released by Mozilla back in July 2011 and since then has gone through a number of updates as websites tested the system for its wider public release.

In the blog post Mozilla announced that the release of BrowserID across these English-language developer websites is an initial step and is part of the organisation’s refinement of the login system; “We’re deploying BrowserID internally because the best way to ensure that we build it right is if we’re using it in mission-critical environments. The early comments we’re getting from users are very encouraging and helpful: we know we’re on the right track, and we also know how to prioritize issues based on how they’re affecting our users.”

The post also hints that we may soon see multiple language updates, suggesting a busy release schedule in 2012, “we’ve chosen to deploy it only on sites that are predominantly English-speaking, or only on the English locales. As we localize, we’ll expand to other locales.”

The release of BrowserID across the majority of Mozilla’s “mission critical” websites is likely designed to promote the login system to web developers and programmers with the hope that they will integrate it into their builds.  This would, in turn, encourage more users to create BrowserID accounts this year.  Already since its launch Mozilla has released and updated a number of tools to allow web developers to place BrowserID on their sites.

But BrowserID faces a competitive market; OpenID holds a strong position already while Facebook and Twitter both allow users to login to other websites (e.g. Klout, Bitly) without the need to create usernames and passwords for these.

It remains to be seen if BrowserID’s strong security and privacy credentials will be enough to encourage developers and users to move from what they already know, but these developments tell us that they are looking to promote BrowserID more to the public in 2012.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).