On Wednesday Google formally announced its support as a provider for the OpenID 2.0 protocol, offering some site owners a way to let users log-in and register for new accounts using existing Google account information. More importantly, Google will be letting these same users manage all their linked account information in one central location.
This new log-in offering is not available to all site owners just yet. Google has set up a sign-up form where developers can apply with their URL and OpenID identification to get access. Plaxo and Zoho are two of the first sites to already have the new system in place, with Zoho having offered a similar option since mid-April.
As many have already noted this isn't OpenID proper. Microsoft's usage of OpenID, announced on Tuesday at PDC, will let users simply drop in their special OpenID URL as their identifier, forsaking the need for a Google account. Google's foray into this is strictly as a provider, adding extra value for those who register for a Google account, while keeping users with OpenIDs from other providers out.
OpenID enthusiasts shouldn't fret though. Just because Google isn't opening up its own sites to OpenID log-ins from others doesn't mean it's not around the corner. Google's Eric Sachs notes that the company is working to try and combine OpenID and identity management service OAuth, which means there's still work to be done on the personal information front. Google is unlikely to jump into being a service provider for OpenID until this is squared away.