Microsoft shutting down its proprietary alternative to QR codes

By on August 19, 2013, 5:30 PM

Microsoft Tag, the company’s colorful take on QR codes is no more. Launched in 2009, the little-known service was supposed to be the software giant's answer to traditional bar codes, black-and-white QR codes, and other scannable tags. But while some major companies and ad agencies adopted the technology, in part due to its tracking and analytics capabilities, it never really caught on with users.

The company is halting development and will no longer support Tag in-house, but it’s licensed the technology to Scanbuy to carry on supporting it and give customers a transition path. To this end, Tag will be integrated into Scanbuy's ScanLife platform next month and will continue to work through August 19, 2015.

Compared to existing solutions, the use of color allowed Microsoft Tag not only to offer branded and more visually appealing tags, it could also store more information into a smaller space. Aside from that it’s essentially a machine readable web link, but since all requests go through Microsoft’s servers first, companies using Tag get the added benefit of analytics data from devices and people scanning them to better manage campaigns.

Another benefit to this centralized approach is that people don’t have to worry about “some random person creating a Microsoft Tag code generator and releasing rogue codes with malicious intent,” according to Scanbuy CEO Mike Wehrs. Perhaps they’ll have better luck driving adoption.

Up until now the only way to read Microsoft’s Tag codes is through the company’s own apps on Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Blackberry and more. Scanbuy will be adding the functionality to its own reader, which is reportedly used by more than 80 million people across all major platforms, including older Nokia phones.

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