While thinking up names, Unix/open source people tend to come up with names containing ‘X’. I can almost hear them scream “‘X’, the new and free(as in beer, pizza and speech) ‘i’(as in iPhone, iPod, etc.)!”
My (possibly fictive) story goes like this: Some time ago, 3 separate development teams came together to find a name for their product.
The first team was making a secure, social, easy way of authenticating browsers. Since they where developing an open authentication protocol, and read loads of developer guidelines, they came up with XAuth, using proper CamelCasing, as one was supposed to.
The second team had a nice OAuth implementation running, but some people required using good ol' passwords, so they came up with the idea of requesting tokens using regular credentials, instead of complicated token exchanges. Since they wanted to be hip, and had a nice marketing department, they came up with xAuth, in line with the iDevice casing.
The third team thought it would be nice to apply the security of OAuth to email. Since this was way to cool to be called OAuth-for-email, they decided to add the cool ‘X’ in front of it. And as we all know(don’t we?), mail servers talk to each other in ALL CAPS, so it was a logical thing to call their system XOAUTH(although they’re not all that consistent about it).