Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Utilizing Microsoft Tag

image Microsoft Tag. No, it isn’t a game that employees play on the Redmond Campus, it’s what some have called the “next-generation CueCat” or “big brother in your pocket.”

What it intends to be is a cross-platform application (available currently on Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile phones) that enables camera and internet enabled devices to “snap” a colorful symbol and be directed to the corresponding website (via Microsoft’s Tag service, of course).

Microsoft elaborates:

Microsoft Tag creates unlimited possibilities for making interactive communications an instant, entertaining part of life. They tranform [sic] physical media (print advertising, billboards,product packages, information signs, in-store merchandising, or even video images)—into live links for accessing information and entertainment online.

With the Microsoft Tag application, just aim your camera phone at a Tag and instantly access mobile content, videos, music, contact information, maps, social networks, promotions, and more. Nothing to type, no browsers to launch!


Interact with almost anything!

  • Makes offline media (print ads, billboards, posters, television) and physical objects (product packages, storefronts, T-shirts, museum exhibits) interactive.
  • Dream up your scenario; engage with your audience in real time, in the real world; and know how successful you were.
  • Remember what you saw, and share it with friends.

Does it really work?

With tags that you can print on business cards, t-shirts, or anything that you can put a colored logo on (yes, it’s got to be color), Tag may prove to be more than just another trendy bar-coding scheme.

imageTake, for example, frankarr, one of the guys I banter with on Twitter, he has replaced his online avatar with his Tag, so now anyone that wants to know more about frankarr just points their phone’s camera at his picture, and ZOOM, they’re off to frankarr’s site – or is it? In Frank’s case, it pulls down his vCard and asks you if you want to import his contact information into your address book.

And yes, I know you’re wondering, can you point to the code on a computer screen and have it work? Yup. Works just fine.

That brings up some questions

  • If I run across a website or profile or avatar that is “Tagged” do I have to pull out my phone and browse the resulting link over my data plan? Yup. At present there are no browser plug-ins that enable desktop browsers to “snap” the Tag… Yet.
  • How do I know what a tag is going to do (open a web page, import someone’s contact information, etc.)? You don’t, which is, in my opinion, very problematic.
  • Can I trust wherever the Tag sends me? Also problematic, because you don’t know where you’re going, you could be sent to a malicious website (theoretically this threat is mitigated by the fact that you can only make a Tag through Microsoft’s Tag website, and you must be logged in to do so.

imageMaking your own Tag

Once you head over to and sign in, you create a Tag – or multiple Tags.

Available Tag formats are URL, Free Text, vCard, and Dialer.

The future

In the future I’d like to see some kind of plain-text “this is what this Tag does” indicator built in to the Tag itself.

I’d also like the Tag Reader software be able to handle more barcode formats:

  • Can you imagine being able to “snap” a UPC at a store which will then go to Price-Grabber and show you the lowest overall price? Awesome.
  • Automatic package tracking by scanning a package’s barcode?
  • etc.

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