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Auction site eBay announced to members on its Web site Wednesday afternoon that it will drop support for Microsoft’s Passport and .NET Alerts by late January. Users were told that “once this takes place, the Microsoft Passport button that is currently displayed on Sign In pages will be replaced with links to a page with more information.”

The announcement came with practically no warning; however, in recent months, it had become much more difficult to sign up for alerts through Microsoft’s .NET services as the pages to do so were buried on eBay’s site.

Users still wishing to receive alerts will have to sign up for eBay’s own mobile phone alerts or the eBay Toolbar, which will display .NET-like alerts when the user’s auction is about to end, is outbid, or is the winner.

In recent months, eBay has also made its service available to third-party developers through “Certified eBay Solutions.”

Microsoft was disappointed with eBay’s decision, but vowed to continue to push its .NET framework as a better method for business-to-consumer interaction.

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