announced on Monday that it will terminate its Microsoft Tag service in two years, on August 19, 2015. For those who can even remember what Tag is, the QR barcode alternative seemed like a great idea at the time.
In 2009, Microsoft announced Tag, a color barcode system using high capacity color barcodes (HCCB) to link back to content. The technology allowed data to be stored in a graphical bitmap using triangle shapes and multiple colors to store data.
This was supposed to be a step up from traditional barcodes since the use of Tag could provide more information. The free Tag app for smartphones was designed to work with the camera to scan Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC touchpoints.
QR for Comfort
The thinking was that the data-rich Tag, positioned as a new generation 2D barcode, would surely be a hit with consumers, as it would outdistance the boring basic black QR codes in looks alone. But that was not exactly how things worked out.
The general reaction to Monday's announcement among Microsoft watchers is that while the Tag technology was sound, consumers were just never wild about Tag. QR codes may have been less exciting to look at but they were familiar and easily recognized.
As a business tool, however, Microsoft Tag has attracted an impressive list of businesses using the technology to engage their target audiences, including publishing industry giants like Meredith Corporation, a media and company with titles such as Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and Ladies' Home Journal.
From Cars to Cauliflower
By 2011 Acura and Whole Foods Markets, among other big name companies, were using Tags in their operations. Acura was incorporating some Microsoft Tags that linked to videos of a car's features and Whole Foods was placing Tag codes on its signage
The good news is that Microsoft Tag users are not being hung out to dry. "Through August 19, 2015, you will be able to continue to log into your existing Microsoft Tag service account, use existing Microsoft Tag codes, generate new Microsoft Tags, and run reports as usual," Microsoft said Monday.
The software giant also said that Scanbuy has been selected to support Microsoft Tag on the ScanLife platform beginning no later than September 18 of this year. ScanLife is a product and service suite for end-consumers as well as B2B customers, who can use the platform to create the codes and identifiers.
New York City-based Scanbuy, a mobile barcode solutions company, will offer transition and migration services if Tag customers decide they want to migrate to Scanbuy's ScanLife platform.
Eric Engstrom, General Manager, Microsoft, said it was easy to select Scanbuy for licensing the Tag technology because its track record and technology were both impressive. Current Microsoft Tag customers will be offered the opportunity to migrate their codes, scan histories, account information and all other data to the ScanLife platform, according to a statement from Scanbuy.