We've covered Microsoft Tag before on Tip o' the Week, but it's worth paying another visit as a few things have changed. Tag is an innovative 2D barcode which can be in colour or black and white, and can even be heavily stylised and worked into logos or other graphics.

If you haven't tried using Tag before, then point your mobile phone to http://gettag.mobi to download the Tag reader app, unless you have Windows Phone 7.5, in which case it's built in. just press the search button on the bottom of the phone, and press the "eye" icon on the bottom of the page - then hold your phone over the tag to read it.

clip_image001clip_image003Here's a customised tag that points to a web URL - http://binged.it/wcQrOr. (Spot the new function within Bing Maps, where when you share a map view that you have, it generates a short URL rather than the massive multi-line one that it used to. like this one.

http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=51.471944979869825~-0.5412939190864563&lvl=10&dir=0&sty=r&eo=0&rtp=pos.51.496877_-0.140405_near%20Victoria%20Street,%20London%20SW1P%201___a_~pos.51.461876_-0.925197_near%20street,%20Reading%20RG6%201___a_&mode=D&rtop=0~0~0~&form=LMLTCC)

It's a piece of cake to create new Tags - go to http://tag.microsoft.com and sign in with you Live ID. You can create a tag that will point to a URL, will contain contact information, a simple block of text or a phone number. Someone can scan your contact and add it straight to their phone, or just call your number directly. Or if your website has mobile-oriented information, then maybe direct them to that.

clip_image005There have been some updates from the Tag team (banish any wrestling analogies from your mind), which have added some interesting new areas of functionality, such as the ability to generate the more widely used if much less visually jazzy, QR Codes. Like this one.

To create your own Microsoft business cards with Tags on the back, visit https://xerox-mscopy.nowdocs.com/ then click on Business Cards / Business Cards / Worldwide Employee Business Cards / . card WITH MS TAG . and upload the Tag image of your contact info you've already created

There are some nice analysis tools available, too - if you are using Tags, QR Codes or NFC codes to do some kind of marketing, you can check on:

· Frequency - how many times a Tag barcode, QR Code or NFC touchpoint (or group of them) has been scanned.

· Time frame - how many scans each recognition technology receives each day and overall.

· Geography - where each Tag barcode, QR Code or NFC touchpoint has been scanned, which can be represented on a Heat Map.

Best of all with Tag, though - everything is completely free. Anyone can create and manage Tags, QR Codes etc, so let your customers and partners know that they could be adding rich, mobile-oriented content to any of their flyers, ads, business cards etc - just by sticking a Tag on the bottom. QR Codes are ugly - try using Tag properly!