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Microsoft launches Identity Agent

21 November 2012   Lyn Whitfield

Microsoft has launched software to enable NHS staff using modern versions of its Windows operating system to connect to the NHS Spine using NHS smartcards.

Until now, only staff using Windows XP have been able to connect via smartcards to the Spine infrastructure, which provides authentication and access to national services, such as the Personal Demographics Service.

Microsoft says the launch of Microsoft Identity Agent will enable staff using Windows 7 or Windows 8 to do the same thing, supporting a shift away from the older operating system and the development of more modern applications.

Microsoft has said that it will cease support for Windows XP on 8 April 2014; along with support for Office 2003.

The company itself acknowledges that “the majority” of NHS workers are still using Windows XP, which was introduced in 2002.

The OS was succeeded by the less-than-popular Windows Vista in 2006, and the better-received Windows 7 and Windows 8 in 2007 and 2012, but many NHS organisations have proved reluctant to migrate away from it.

The reasons given include the difficulty of migrating from XP to Windows 7 and Windows 8, the range of applications that were built for XP, and the difficulty of training hundreds of staff to use an OS that looks very different to the 2002 system.

“Identity Agent will free the NHS to use powerful modern software features, from virtual application streaming that improves management of desktops to 64bit processing to process large image files such as medical scans, said Alastair Dick, Microsoft NHS chief technology officer.

Microsoft has billed Windows 8 as an operating system built with mobility in mind, so Dick added that Identity Manager should also enable trusts to move to software that would “support slate devices so doctors walking around wards have instant access to the right data.”

The company has worked with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust to provide a reference architecture for the new software, which is being evaluated by another 45 NHS organisations.


Last updated: 23 November 2012 13:20

© 2012 EHealth Media.


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NHSCIO 100 weeks ago

A company called isosec have had a smart card client out for some time now that supports windows 7 and 8 at both 32 and 64 bit versions. It it very quick, feels light years ahead of the vanilla CfH badged version. Be interesting if the Microsoft one is quicker - here's hoping.


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Dave Kelsall 101 weeks ago

Like Henry Helmet's Trust, ours has been using IA with Windows 7 for about a year now, ironically with free consultancy from Microsoft to help set it up and overcome some of the compatibility issues.


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TechnoBod 101 weeks ago

The MS Identity Agent is quite slick, and integrates well into Windows (as you would expect). However it's worth noting that there has been a Windows 7 compatible Identity Agent available from CFH for quite a few months now which works just fine on 32bit. Our trust has also run it on Windows 7 64bit just by installing the 64bit version of the Gem libraries, which I believe is what the Microsoft agent also uses.


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how do i get microsoft identity agent

Paul Welsh 101 weeks ago

Can I ask how do you go about getting access to both the Microsoft identity agent and the 64bit gem libraries. I am very keen to know as like most nhs IT departments are biggest hold back to migrate to windows 7 was identity agent as we only had support from cfh for 32bit.


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Sres 78 weeks ago

Did you have any luck with getting hold of this information? Paul? I'm also struggling to get anything out of NHS IT...


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