With all the interest in QR codes, it is no surprise that Microsoft wanted a piece of the action. Enter the Microsoft Tag.

The Microsoft Tag is a high capacity color bar code and works much like a QR code. However, unlike QR codes which are typically black and white (though some sites offer an alternate color rather than black), the Microsoft Tag can be created to have two, four or eight colors in a triangular grid matrix. They are designed to support four types of content, with optional passwords for each:

  • URLs
  • Free text – up to 1,000 characters with password optional
  • Dialers – automatically dial the embedded number
  • vCard – the ability to upload all or part of a form’s information requirements

These options allow your customers the same access as the QR codes do, and can also be used in digital displays such as television, computers and Jumbotrans.

Unlike QR codes, you can give Microsoft Tags a unique look allows others to get a glimpse of who are and what your company is about. You can use stylized icons, dots, triangles or even the background photo of your choice. However, a Microsoft Tag has a high level of security options, such as:

  • No signing – Totally foregoing security
  • ECC signing – Elliptical Curve Cryptology and Public Key Infrastructure
  • RSA-1024 signing – Due to recent security issues, this is will likely be upgraded to the next level of RSA.
    If you are wondering about how QR codes and Microsoft tags compare, the experts at Search Engine Land have made the following observations:
  1. QR codes range in size based on the amount of embedded information; Microsoft tags can be as small as ¾ of an inch.
  2. QT codes cannot be edited; Microsoft Tags can be.
  3. QR codes have minimal-if any- artistic appeal; Microsoft tags are much like mini pieces of artwork.
  4. QR codes contain error technology’ it is unknown if this is available for Microsoft tags.
  5. QR code technology accurately detects and decodes on curved surfaces; Microsoft tags do not.
  6. Microsoft tags can contain up to 1,000 characters while QR tags can encode 4 times that.
  7. Microsoft tags are less likely to have errors when there is a large amount of stored information than QR tags are.
  8. Microsoft Tags require access to Microsoft codes; QR codes need only a cell phone Wi-Fi connection.
  9. QR codes do not block URLs; Microsoft Tags block those URLs that are on their blacklist.
  10. Microsoft Tags are a closed platform; QR Tags are an open ISO standard.
  11. QR Tags are used by thousands of small companies but are not “championed” by anyone yet-although Google is dabbling with them; Microsoft Tags …Microsoft-need we say more?

Whether you decide to use QR codes or Microsoft Tags it is imperative that you give some serious thought to how you will use them and promote them to you customers. This is because they are still relatively new to the American culture. After all, taking a moment to scan a QR code or Microsoft Tag is a new aspect for the consumer and many of them don’t see the value. Be sure that your Code or Tag is clearly, yet succinctly marked and placed in a location that people will see. In addition, a brief explanation of way the customer would want to scan the code is recommended.

Like many things in business, QR codes and Microsoft Tags take time before their potential is fully understood and utilized by all. However, many business/web analysts believe that it is only a matter of time before this technology is commonplace. Why not start now promoting your company through QR codes or Microsoft Tags so that you will be ahead of the curve later on?