Google has once again taken the lead in innovation by rolling out their QR code based 'Favorite Places on Google'.

A QR code, seen above, is a 2D tag system that is gaining popularity as the standard for matrix codes.  Google is sending out decal codes to 100,000 local businesses that are the most searched on Google.  In turn, they can place these decals in their store front.  When a tech-savvy (and probably Android wielding) customer walks by, they can scan the code and pull down coupons, information, reviews, etc.

Pretty brilliant.

The question is where is Microsoft on this front? A few years ago they had a QR development program called 'Windows Live Barcode', later renamed 'Confucius'. It then vanished and presumably reappeared as 'MS Tag' which is now a proprietary matrix code system, albeit a very nice one. However, QR code support is gone.

There are really nice third-party alternatives right now for Windows phone, specifically 'BeeTag' (download here) which works flawlessly on our Touch Pro 2 (give it a shot, scan the above QR code). But in order for Microsoft to at least match what Google is now doing, they'll have to put QR code support back into MS Tag, something we hope they will do. Furthermore, can MS Tag survive up against QR now that Google is actually deploying it?

On another front, Google is also now offering 'Google Goggles': a visual identification and search program for Android (see demo here).  PC World has confirmed with Google that "other platforms" are planned but no time-frame is given. In the meantime, Microsoft and Bing, we await your response.