Given that IIS for years has been the way everyone refers to Microsoft's Web server product - why would anyone think it was a good idea to call the revamped directory product the Microsoft Identity Integration Server? Redmond wants it to be known as "MIIS." I doubt it will be known as very much of anything at all.Twenty-six cubed, that's 26 times 26 times 26, equals 17,576. Remember that.A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft introduced\u00a0the latest incarnation of its metadirectory services product\u00a0(formerly called Microsoft MetaDirectory Services), which it purchased in 1999 when it acquired Zoomit Technology and its VIA metadirectory service. This is the first significant revision of that technology (although the second major release), and the tea leaves can be read two vastly different ways.The first way says that Microsoft finally is taking identity management seriously after years of neglect. Besides the release of the metadirectory service, there's also its timing, coinciding as it did with Burton Group's Catalyst Conference last week in San Francisco. Catalyst is the oldest and largest gathering of identity management vendors and professionals, and it's increasingly gaining importance as a venue for introducing new products and services. A number of industry veteran vendors, including Oblix and Business Layers (the pioneers of electronic provisioning), were quick to announce new products and services supporting Microsoft's initiative.On the other hand, it has taken Microsoft almost four years to develop a metadirectory product that's fully integrated with Active Directory. In the intervening years, Microsoft also has developed Passport and the ill-fated Hailstorm (later .Net MYServices) intiative in the area of identity management. The Redmondites are still too often merely bit players (when they're playing at all) in standards bodies working within the identity space on authentication and authorization.With anyone else, I'd conclude that this release was too little and far too late, but this is Microsoft we're talking about. The beast that even the 800-pound gorillas stop and listen to. The new service will be deployed and will be accounted for in future open standard specification. And fortunately, there's nothing in this new release that breaks any existing standards - which could be another clue that Microsoft is simply "going through the motions."But an even bigger clue is the name of the new service. Given that a three-letter abbreviation has 17,576 possible combinations (see math in first paragraph), and given that IIS for years has been the way everyone refers to Microsoft's Web server product (officially Microsoft Internet Information Server) - why would anyone think it was a good idea to call the revamped product the Microsoft Identity Integration Server? Redmond wants it to be known as "MIIS." I doubt it will be known as very much of anything at all.Tip of the weekA lot more happened at the Catalyst Conference, some of it quite interesting (such as an interoperability demo by the various eProvisioning vendors). Check my blog to see my notes posted as events were happening, and then follow up with Network World Fusion's\u00a0identity management newsletter\u00a0for all the details.