QR Codes have been talked about a lot this year and they have been popping up everywhere, primarily in stores where you scan the funny looking square with your smart phone and it takes you to a web site and provides information and offers. The possibilities for this have grown greatly and even political candidates are adding QR Codes to their printed information. The key is built into the generated graphic, which when scanned is translated into a URL that then sends you to that site. Microsoft now has a competing and proprietary method for QR Codes which they are calling “Tag” and there is a lot of information at the Microsoft Tag web site. The first thing that you notice about Microsoft’s Tag is that it contains color where QR Codes do not. What makes Microsoft’s method much different is that the Tag contains URL information, but it sends you to a Microsoft site which interprets the information and then can forward you to the actual site. By first going to the Microsoft Tag servers, it gives them the ability to provide much greater flexibility using the same tag. If you want to change where a scanned Tag sends the person to, you would only have to do it on the server, via a web page, and then anyone scanning that tag after that would see the changed location. One of the issues for this is you cannot use a generic scanner software on your smart phone, but have to download a Microsoft scanner version. Now you have two competing versions of scanners and that may cause problems forcing people to chose. Microsoft is providing apps for most of the major phones and of course for their own Windows Phone 7. Given the recent malware associated with QR Codes, it seems that Microsoft’s method for handle their Tag’s may be a better solution because of people creating QR Codes which have bad intent by sending you to a site that infects your phone or trying to get you to download a file. But, even Microsoft’s method cannot prevent that from happening as people can sign up and do the same things with the Tags. The only difference is that Microsoft can block the Tag when it finds out that it is associated with malware or infection. One they identify a bad site with a Tag, they can then block it from access immediately and it is then cut off completely for the Tag Code that is associated with it.

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