Several major supporters of the network computer initiative plan to announce an agreement on a standard interface for using smart cards with the scaled-down computing devices.
The accord, which will be announced by IBM, Oracle Corp., Network Computer Inc., Netscape Communications Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., will ensure that smart cards will be able to interoperate between network computers.
The companies have agreed that smart cards and smart card readers should be included in their NC specifications as well.
One source familiar with the announcement said the accord will further legitimize network computers.
"We're making it so any card can work in any network computer, whether in an airport, or a public kiosk, even at any desk within an enterprise," the source said. "This will give the full freedom of roaming."
Along with work being done by the Security Infrastructure Group, headed by Netscape, and the PC/SC Workgroup, led by Microsoft Corp., today's agreement should speed the development of both NCs and a solid smart card infrastructure.
The ultimate goal is a common standard that will allow a single user's card to operate virtually anywhere, much as a credit or debit card does today.
However, despite today's announcement, there are still no standards for the broad deployment of smart cards.