Here's one we didn't quite get to earlier this month at CES 2009: Microsoft Tag. If the little barcode looks familiar, it should. It's in the same family as the QR Code, the black-and-white dot matrix-looking guy that gained popularity in Japan but hasn't really made it anywhere else.

Now Microsoft is pushing this new standard. Basically, using an app from Microsoft, you take a picture of the tag. The app then gets the metadata off the tag, then heads online to display a Web page, Vcard, text ad, dialier, etc.

Advantages over the black-and-white QR Code:

  • The color and design of the tag allow for more data in a smaller space.
  • It works better with cell phone cameras.
  • Unlike QR Code, this has the full weight of Microsoft behind it.

What's holding it back:

  • This never got off the ground in Japan. Is a better tag enough to make it popular here? Right now, this beta program is only available in the U.S.
  • It's yet one more standard for developers and users. And this one is "owned" by microsoft and needs its servers to work in the first place.
  • Because it goes through the mothership, Microsoft will have all sorts of metrics on who uses the tags (as well as on you, the user). And right now, it's free to create a tag. Will it always be so?
  • Let's face it: This is still pretty gadgety, even for us.

If you want to give it a shot, head on over to and download the app, then start snapping away. We'll even give you a tag to start with. (pdf link)


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