Tag – Microsoft’s It

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Microsoft is attempting to reinvent in the barcode with tags that, when scanned by mobile phones, can connect magazine readers with digital information about the article they’re reading, the ad they’re viewing or the Kevin Myers editorial that they’re raging over. Well, they haven’t moved on to Myers just yet but the experiment has been going on surreptitiously for over a year now.

The Microsoft Tag, we think it's a great idea - your thoughts? Comment below.

Linking up printed material with online content the system could actually be expanded to areas like business cards, various products and even banner adverts. A Cnet report on the concept notes that Marja Koopmans, marketing leader for Microsoft’s start-up accelerator unit terms the idea as a ‘hyperlink for the physical world’.

Adds the report, “Tags can link to anything from a Web page to an online brochure or electronic business card. Golf Digest magazine; for example, uses tags to link directly to YouTube videos that can be viewed on an iPhone or other smartphone. That allows the magazine to, essentially, include not just how-to articles, but also instructional videos within its publication.”

Reading the tags requires users to download a small bit of software onto your phone, though Microsoft has wisely decided to support a variety of phones, from basic Java phones to smartphones, including Windows Mobile devices, BlackBerrys, and even iPhones. The Tag effort started in Microsoft’s research labs a couple of years ago but has now moved into the start-up unit that houses some of Microsoft’s most nascent businesses.

For the moment, the technology behind the tag freely available and at the minute there’s no charge for the reader or for companies that want to create a tag. But predictably enough there is a route to profit there somewhere. They didn’t become a multi-billion dollar corporation by being nice. “We believe the basic services we provide now are going to be free,” Koopmans told Cnet. Down the road though, she says, Microsoft may charge for more advanced services. “We’re not a philanthropic institution,” she added.

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3 Responses to “Tag – Microsoft’s It”

  1. Kersti Says:

    This is the MS version of the QR code, which is way cooler. A QR code can be made to fit in with any site design due to the fact that it’s not reliant on colour. For my money, I’ll go with the M$-free option any day.

    • komplettie Says:

      I love QR codes for reasons I can’t even begin to explain, I absolutely love them…

      I wonder if I can get my contact details QR-coded onto my clothes 🙂

  2. nutterguy Says:

    QR code are pretty good and useful none the less but if you actually bothered to read about these tags they are far more useful.
    They actually only contain a link, which can be change at will after the tags have been printed; so for example if your contact info changes that is not a problem; your web address changes thats not a problem you just update it online and everyone scanning the code will go to the new info/site.
    Also these can be blended into patterns and shapes (http://www.microsoft.com/tag/content/overview/CustomTags.aspx) and imo look no worse than QR tags.

    I have used both quite a bit and find that QR code are very sensitive and take a few seconds or more to scan. Tags are read instantly and can even be converted into black and white, so there is no issue with newspaper printing.

    Mind you market penetration is a problem and sadly here QR cods have the lead. Not that that would change Kerstis mind…

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