Yahoo is joining Google and Facebook as major Web portals to take the OpenID relying party plunge.

Starting Jan. 20th, the company will accept third-party user authentication with Facebook and Google logins (via OpenID) across its Yahoo Network. 

OpenID Foundation board member Chris Messina (Google) Tweeted after the announcement, “Huge! Yahoo becomes a relying party to Google and Facebook.”

The ongoing, and often nagging question, of which major Internet portals are an OpenID relying party may finally be steaming toward its best answer: All of them.

What OpenID needs is fewer providers and more relying parties, those willing to accept OpenID credentials issued by another Web site. Unfortunately it has been easier to become an OpenID provider and ride the trendy coattails than to do the work to become a relying party.

The landscape has been tilted in the wrong direction for too long with too many providers and not enough sites willing to accept them. Like the government’s dollar bills only valid at government-run stores.

Yahoo is now all in with Google and Facebook. In October, the company began the journey by supporting OpenID log-ins with Google on Flickr. 

Yahoo, however, admits the task is not over. “Many challenges remain. For example, you still won’t be able to sign into a mobile or desktop client using a Google OpenID, as there are no simple solutions,” Andy Y Wu and Naveen Agarwal, wrote on the Yahoo Developer Network blog.

But they did verify that, “from Yahoo's perspective, any signed-in user that is engaging with Yahoo services is a valued user, regardless of how the user authenticates.”

Facebook was first to the relying-party party in 2009.

Google laid its bet in September, announcing it would now accept Yahoo issued OpenID’s for signing into Google sites. More work is coming according to Google. In November, the search giant provided extensive documentation to support its effort to build a community of relying parties to jump start OpenID on the Web.

Now we’ll see how many other sites take the plunge.

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