Microsoft to dump Tag; Scanbuy will license it but hasn't told backer Google yet

In 2009, Microsoft first announced Tag, a QR code-like technology that let people scan triangle patterns on magazines, labels and more on their smartphones to access extra content. Unlike QR codes, which actually stores the content information in its patterns, Microsoft Tags patterns stored an ID code that sent a signal out to a remote server to obtain the content information when scanned by an app.

Microsoft released Tag applications for Windows Phone, iPhone and Android, but the technology was not nearly as popular as QR codes. Today, Microsoft announced that it will shut down its Tag operations in two years, on August 19th, 2015. Until then, current customers can continue to use Tag codes and generate new ones.

What's even more interesting is that another company, Scanbuy, has reached an agreement with Microsoft to license the Tag technology for use on Scanbuy's own Scanlife platform. Scanbuy has also agreed to take on any of Microsoft's Tag corporate customers that wish to continue to use the technology. Specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In an interview with CITEWorld.com, Mike Wehrs, the CEO of Scanbuy, said that Microsoft Tags still have an appeal to some businesses because it is a proprietary technology. He stated, "That means we don’t have to worry about some random person creating a Microsoft Tag code generator and releasing rogue codes with malicious intent."

However, Scanbuy's actions in taking on Microsoft Tag may not sit well with one of its financial backers: Google. Google and Microsoft are not exactly friendly these days and, when asked about Google's reaction to buying Microsoft Tag, Wehrs said simply, "Google doesn’t even know yet." As part of the deal, Microsoft will have an observer sit in on Scanbuy's board meetings with Google's representative and Wehrs admits that Scanbuy's next meeting, which will be held on August 28th, " ... will be an interesting day."

Source: Microsoft and CITEWorld | Image via Scanbuy

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19 Comments

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I wonder about that too. It may be the number of actual scans are so insignificant it really doesn't matter. It's one of those things marketing types which people would use but no one does.

Another example of how Microsoft, in their branching out into many non-laptop/desktop OS related fields, lost focus on their core product and have became conflicted. While branching out, in and of itself, is not bad and should be considered for long-term growth; ignoring one's core competencies is fraught with danger.

TsarNikky said,
Another example of how Microsoft, in their branching out into many non-laptop/desktop OS related fields, lost focus on their core product and have became conflicted. While branching out, in and of itself, is not bad and should be considered for long-term growth; ignoring one's core competencies is fraught with danger.

This makes no sense. Microsoft has tens of thousands of employees. Their 'core products' already have a ton of people working on them. If you have the money to invest in new technologies, you do so. Spending to put more people on the same products accomplishes nothing, and often damages progress on them. This is software design 101 stuff.

TsarNikky said,
Another example of how Microsoft, in their branching out into many non-laptop/desktop OS related fields, lost focus on their core product and have became conflicted. While branching out, in and of itself, is not bad and should be considered for long-term growth; ignoring one's core competencies is fraught with danger.

It was generated out of their Microsoft Research division... you know, the one that spends billions of dollars on PhD schleps to do whatever the heck they want in the name of "research"? Try to find me a company that spends more on non-Windows/Office R&D than Microsoft? Didn't think so.

I could be wrong but doesn't Tag require an internet connection while QR don't ? If i'm not wrong then Tag is not superior.

QR Codes can adopt the coloring scheme, instead of Black & White pattern it can use 4 colors like Tag, that would mean the colored QR codes would have double its data capacity for the same size.
Assuming the camera support color input, which mostly are.

LaP said,
I could be wrong but doesn't Tag require an internet connection while QR don't ? If i'm not wrong then Tag is not superior.

So you can read that URL off the tag and do what?

Torolol said,
QR Codes can adopt the coloring scheme, instead of Black & White pattern it can use 4 colors like Tag...
This would only serve to benefit on screen versions of QR or those printed with color printers. Many applications that print QR codes are doing so using thermal bar code printers, which aren't capable of printing in anything other than grey scale.

LaP said,
I could be wrong but doesn't Tag require an internet connection while QR don't ? If i'm not wrong then Tag is not superior.
Tag does require Internet access, but it can also store more information due to density. However, I don't see the point in Tag. Part of it's allure is that you can store more data, but since it requires an Internet connection, you can just as easily store a URI in the QR code -- which has the same effect.

ahinson said,
Tag does require Internet access, but it can also store more information due to density. However, I don't see the point in Tag. Part of it's allure is that you can store more data, but since it requires an Internet connection, you can just as easily store a URI in the QR code -- which has the same effect.

The difference is it can be malicious. I can make up QR code labels to go to my social engineering site and stick them anywhere.

Spicoli said,

The difference is it can be malicious. I can make up QR code labels to go to my social engineering site and stick them anywhere.

This is assuming that MS is policing Tag information. Do we know that to be the case? If not, the same is true with Tag.

Even so, if they are policing it. If you get it through MS's validation process, nothing stops you from changing things later so it's goes from being legit to malicious.

ahinson said,
This is assuming that MS is policing Tag information. Do we know that to be the case? If not, the same is true with Tag.

Even so, if they are policing it. If you get it through MS's validation process, nothing stops you from changing things later so it's goes from being legit to malicious.

No, it's not. I can make my fake labels completely anonymously with no paper trail and make them appear to be part of store displays and such. While you can fake online credentials, it's much more difficult and can be cut off as soon as it's discovered. My fake QR labels cannot be cancelled.

I found this hard to believe 'because it is a proprietary technology. He stated, "That means we don't have to worry about some random person creating a Microsoft Tag code generator and releasing rogue codes with malicious intent."'
It means IE and Windows are secure because they are proprietary code and we don't need to worry about malware, virus, key-loggers, etc...
That's great news... I have been worry about, thanks Mr. Wehrs you have make my life easier...

Rolosa said,
I found this hard to believe 'because it is a proprietary technology. He stated, "That means we don't have to worry about some random person creating a Microsoft Tag code generator and releasing rogue codes with malicious intent."'
It means IE and Windows are secure because they are proprietary code and we don't need to worry about malware, virus, key-loggers, etc...
That's great news... I have been worry about, thanks Mr. Wehrs you have make my life easier...

Please read the article and try to properly understand it before commenting next time.

"Unlike QR codes, which actually stores the content information in its patterns, Microsoft Tags patterns stored an ID code that sent a signal out to a remote server to obtain the content information when scanned by an app."


by "proprietary technology", he means that nobody can create valid Tag without the editor involvement, because the tag needs server side information to produce a result (as opposite to QR codes where the data is fully stored in the qr code)

thus, you can't put a malicious tag in a public place that will redirect to a malicious URL if the editor (who control the Tag server) no longer allows tag creation from unknown users.

and that would mean that tag producers is at mercy of servers/clouds overlord,
as the lord can easily change the sever content and divert the tag's original intention,
which contributes to the tags unpopularity.