It's pretty nifty, and I've written about it many times:
- QR Code Introduction (with Mutrons!)
- QR Code Capacities (level 1-10)
I even made a QR Code Generator so you can make your own codes in your web browser.
Anyway, my point:
Microsoft has their own 2D barcode system which they're presenting as, basically, a customer-facing shortcut mechanism that'll do mostly the same thing as QR Codes. They make a very big deal of the fact that it's smaller than a QR Code, and you can do fancy things like make the tag out of flowers or butterflies rather than the austere dots that make up a QR Code.
At first I was appalled: Why are they reinventing the wheel?
Then I got into it, this is pretty neat. They're much prettier to look at, even without making the image out of coloured cocks or whatever silly clipart you've got lying around.
Then I read a little further.
The deception starts early: the two tags on the left are unnecessarily large.
(image taken from MS site)
QR Codes are an ISO standard, free and open for all to use in any way they see fit. In the links above you'll find all kinds of implementations, including the very great, free PHP implementation from Swetake which I use for my generator.
Microsoft's tags are not free: you create the code on their website, so you never really know how it's created. Then, you download a program for your phone, which scans and reads the codes. I'm more or less OK with that, though I'd prefer a program I could integrate with my own webpages, but here's the kicker:
Microsoft's tags are free to create and read, for now. Microsoft says they'll never charge to READ the tags, but...
Quote by Microsoft:During the beta period, there is no charge to create and use Tags. And in the event that Microsoft decides to charge publishers to use Tags, any Tags that were created and used during the beta, will continue to work, free of charge, for at least two years.
So, developers have a choice: An open, free format used for a long time by phone companies around the world, or a closed Microsoft option that might be free, and might work for more than two years. QR Codes can contain anything at all, (including images of QR Codes!) but Microsoft tags can only contain four things (URLs, phone numbers, vcard or freetext).
Also, the Microsoft application is bugged: all scans go through their servers, so they gather all the information on what your users are scanning, where QR Codes use whatever browser or email (or whatever else!) client is running on the phone. They can get away with this as their tags don't work without internet access. A QR Code is self-contained: it is everything you need. MS tags don't work at all if your phone has no data plan.
Fuck you, Microsoft. This is why you're not going to win in the long run: You tie people to your custom solutions, and discard them when you're bored, fucking them all over in the process. Your solutions need to be better than the ones already extant. Your cute little tags... Well, they're not.