When you sign into your Gmail account, you’re automatically signed into all Google Services — Docs, Blogger, Reader, whatever. And you like that, don’t you? We do too. It’s hassle-free, and hassle-free is good indeed. But then, you need another ID for your Yahoo! account. And another for your Windows Live services. And another for some other services we can’t really think of right now.
And then came OpenID — the initiative that promised us a single ID. If you remember just one single password, you’re set to access all the services you ever need. It’s more hassle-free than what we’re used to now, so it can only be better.
In January this year, there were only two players supporting the platform — Yahoo! and AOL. And we don’t know about you, but we remember sticking to our Yahoo! IDs to access the services. Now, however, more of the big guns have joined the movement for OpenID — Google, MySpace and Microsoft, among others, announced their support for the platform in October. Finally, it looks like the way is paved for a Web that’s much easier to access, and henceforth, we’ll only have just one ID to remember. Even better, you already have an OpenID — none of this registration nonsense to contend with.
Only one problem, though: people don’t seem to be using it.
It’s not that people aren’t enthusiastic about it, either — you’re probably getting pretty excited about OpenID yourself, we can tell — it’s just that they can’t figure it out. When Yahoo! studied the success of their OpenID system, they saw one critical flaw with it — users found the system absolutely befuddling. But is it really that befuddling, or are we talking stupid users here?
Turns out, logging into a service with an OpenID is considerably befuddling indeed. First, there’s the matter of your ID. You don’t register for one: if you have some sort of Web presence — Blogger or Yahoo!, for example — you already have an OpenID. In the former case, it’s your blog address; in the latter, it’s a little complicated. Then there’s the login process itself. It isn’t as simple as username: password any more. Let’s say you want to use your Blogger address as your OpenID. You just enter your blog URL in the box that asks for your OpenID, and click on Login. Then, you’ll be taken to Blogger, where you’ll have to log in using your Google ID. And then, you’ll go back to the site you were trying to log into, and you’ll be signed in. Dizzy yet? And the process changes for every OpenID-toting service, too.
And we know what you’re thinking — unless the companies get their act together and stop sending us bouncing around the Internet, we’ll keep our passwords, thank you.