Eighteen months ago we launched Microsoft Tag, our mobile barcode technology. Since then more than 1 billion Tags have been printed by people and businesses all over the world. In the month of April alone, more than 20 million magazines with Tags were in the hands of U.S. consumers.

Today we’re announcing that Tag is coming out of beta and that basic use of Tags will be free of charge. This means you will be able to generate and use Tags that link to our standard scenarios, such as linking directly to webpages, and use the reader application at no cost. By simply going to Tag.Microsoft.com, you can create Tags and deliver rich interactive experiences on mobile phones, track your Tags, and read about how companies such as Conde Nast and others are using Tag.

Because of the feedback from businesses using Tag, we also plan to offer the ability to create more powerful solutions through a variety of value-added services, such as advanced reporting and analytics and real-time location services. We will add these and other value-added features over time.

We’ve already seen a lot of enthusiasm for Tag among marketers, developers and consumers as well as a diverse range of creative scenarios using Tag in industries as varied as publishing, advertising, retail, real estate, transit, automotive, consumer packaged goods, tourism and entertainment.  Whether it’s Golf Digest demonstrating the perfect swing, Fearless Records connecting fans to new music and info about their favorite bands, Avatar showcasing its movie trailer, or a Tag on your morning box of Wheaties – Tag is increasingly making the world around us clickable.

This past week, for instance. Amsterdam became the second world city with a Tag-led tour, with Tags on monuments, museums, restaurants, bars, and other landmarks. The Mall of America, in Minnesota, has announced plans to use Tag to help enhance customer engagement and give retailers an interactive tool to promote their products. These are just a few examples, and by staying connected through our blog and Tag communities on Facebook and Twitter, you can discover many more ways to use Tag to increase the effectiveness of your marketing and create a powerful experience for your customers. You also can learn more about how to implement Tag at the Microsoft Tag website.

Today we can imagine a world where any physical object can become a gateway to a world of digital content and engagement: Scan a product in a newspaper, get a personalized offer, buy it on the spot, or get directions to the store to buy it later. Or, scan a poster for a play, see a preview of the performance, invite friends, and buy tickets. This is what Tag can do for you, for your users, for your marketing campaign, and for your business. All you have to do is simply click on things in your physical world to make your world interactive on the spot.

Posted by Aaron Getz
General Manager, Microsoft Tag