May 16, 2005—More than a year after they buried the hatchet and announced a collaboration agreement, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems spoke about their work together, including steps toward addressing what Sun called customers' top request: single sign-on between Microsoft's Windows Server and Sun's Solaris operating system and Java Enterprise System.

Sun and Microsoft's initial work together has focused on drafting standards. In the past year they've jointly worked on two single-sign-on protocols, Web SSO (Single Sign-On) MEX (Metadata Exchange) and Web SSO Interoperability Profile, which they plan to support in Windows Server and Java Enterprise System. The protocols are intended to enable single-sign-on across domains using two different identity standards, WS-Federation and the Liberty Alliance's ID-FF (Identity Federation Framework).

The two vendors are also working together on other Web services standards such as WS-Management, a specification for coordinating hardware and software management.

Sun and Microsoft also highlighted their other technology swaps, including product certifications and work with third-party integrators like Accenture and EDS on customer projects combining the two vendors' products.

Longtime rivals Sun and Microsoft startled the industry last year with an agreement in early April that ended years of lawsuits between the two companies and called for Microsoft to pay Sun more than billion to resolve antitrust and patent issues. The companies also signed a 10-year technical collaboration agreement and pledged to improve their working relationship.

Stacy Cowley is a New York-based correspondent for the IDG News Service.

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Stacy Cowley is a reporter for the IDG News Service.