Tag, you’re no longer it. Microsoft has announced that it will terminate its Tag service two years from today.

Launched in 2009, Tag tried to outdo 2D barcodes (QR codes) to provide a connector between smartphones and things populating the real world that just cry out for “more info,” like magazines or signs in actual store aisles.

Microsoft’s idea was to include the benefits of QR codes but go further. Users could employ the software to create QR bar codes, or Tag barcodes, or near-field communication links (although that tech is still in its early stages). Like QR codes, scanning a Tag can bring up things like a website, an online video, and other media on your smartphone.

But — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — Microsoft chose a proprietary software system to compete with the open-source solution. The company touted colors and hard-to-read embedded logos that its Tags could offer, but QR codes simply caught on faster. While the Tag penetration was substantial in print publications, retailers were in the QR camp, and no mobile devices — not even Windows Phone devices — had a Tag reader preloaded. In comparison, many Android phones come with QR readers preinstalled.

To help Tagsters through the transition, Microsoft has arranged for Tag campaigns to be run on Scanbuy’s cloud-based ScanLife platform, the largest provider of QR codes.

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