The company formed Live Labs earlier this year and appointed former Yahoo Researcher Gary Flake to head the group. The idea, said Microsoft then, was that Live Labs would help Microsoft match the short development times that rivals such as Google and Yahoo were taking to deliver new Web services.
One of the two new offerings, marked with the long moniker "Microsoft Live Labs Security Token Service," is an online identity service that lets users store authentication functions on Microsoft's servers, then call on them to log into supportive Web sites. Users enter personal information, including a site or service's password, to create a so-called "InfoCard," then whip it out to log into sites that support STS.
Although Microsoft was mum, STS might replace the long-suffering Microsoft Passport sign-on service, which in late 2004 was pulled from all non-Microsoft sites and is now used only by the Redmond, Wash. developer for users to access, among other services and sites, Windows Live Mail (formerly Hotmail).
The second beta from Live Labs, dubbed "Microsoft Live Labs Relay Service," allows Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) to access systems through network defenses such as firewalls and network address translators (NATs).
WCF, once code named "Indigo" and part of the WinFX package, is a Windows Vista technology that lets programs interoperate locally or remotely in a Web services-style fashion.
Both the beta services require the Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 browser.