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Microsoft Extends Deal With VeriSign; Plans New Data Analysis App

Microsoft says VeriSign will issue digital certificates to authenticate users of HailStorm.
Microsoft says VeriSign Inc. will issue digital certificates to authenticate users of its Internet-based software code-named "HailStorm." The deal, disclosed Tuesday, extends a relationship between the companies that dates to 1996. The agreement is also a public sign of fence-mending between the two after VeriSign disclosed in March that it had mistakenly issued digital certificates to hackers posing as Microsoft employees.

VeriSign issues the security keys and clearances that authenticate the validity of software and people issuing it. Its technology ships with Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser, assuring that the software that users download from Microsoft's Web sites is, in fact, issued by the company.

Now, Microsoft is developing new types of software that provide operating-system-style services, such as directories and notifications, as components that live on Internet servers. The code would be accessible by independent software vendors for use with their apps. This so-called HailStorm software, and the Passport user accounts needed to access it, will presumably require authentication on a larger scale than Microsoft has previously had to provide. In late May, Microsoft signed a deal with McAfee.com Corp. to provide authentication across Web sites that subscribe to Passport.

In other technology news Tuesday, Microsoft said it plans to ship a new desktop application, called Data Analyzer, this fall. The software, based on technology Microsoft bought from Israeli software vendor Maximal Innovative Intelligence this year, will be a general-purpose graphical analysis tool for data stored in SQL Server 2000, according to people familiar with the product. Microsoft officials weren't available for comment, except to say that Microsoft plans to ship Data Analyzer as a stand-alone product.