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Microsoft Tag is an interesting barcoding technology that works with your mobile phone for instant access to information, websites, videos, phone numbers, and more.  Smaller than QR codes and capable of embedding more information into a branded image. All you need is a small client app available for many major cameraphones on the market (yes, even Android & iPhone). To-date, over 20M magazines in the US have been printed with tags and in publications including Entertainment Weekly, Chicago Tribune, and TV Guide to name a few.  Worldwide, over 1 Billion tags have been printed!

While I’m not directly affiliated with the Tag team, we’ve seen great response as an implementer of Microsoft Tag. My team has used Microsoft Tag with clients on campaigns on Xbox LIVE, in-store, and around the Web including big names such as Wal-Mart and Porsche for the launch of the Panamera 4-door sedan.  In fact, some of you may have found Microsoft Tag graffiti inside the new hit-game, Alan Wake.  The goal behind Microsoft Tag is simple – remove the steps to get at the content you want, where you want it.  In our cases, we’ve focused on free downloads – wallpaper, ringtones, videos and similar mobile add-ons.  In a recent campaign, over 85% of those snapping the tag engaged with the mobile site and downloaded content to personalize their phone.

Here’s an overview video:

The new release also adds new features, including improvements to the Tag Reader, a new Heat Map report, and availability of the Tag Reader in Italian, French, Spanish, Turkish and Simplified Chinese. Also, Tag’s basic services will now be offered free of charge. Anyone can build a tag, and embed it in your business card, your website, or however you like.

Congratulations to the Microsoft Tag team on their launch – you can get it for yourself at http://tag.microsoft.com or via mobile at http://gettag.mobi

Update 1: Updated # of printed tags to $1B worldwide based on video.

Update 2: Additional coverage on the Microsoft Blog here.  Techflash has also covered here.

Capture It’s been a busy past 48 hours for the Microsoft team responsible for the E3 press briefing.  If ever there were concern that E3 has lost its luster, this was the presentation to prove otherwise.  A few of the highlights before I get into the rest:

  • Sir Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and  George Harrison’s wife on-stage to promote Rock Band: The Beatles.  A nice touch that all proceeds from the game developer and Microsoft for download of the song, “All you need is love” is going to Doctors without Borders.
  • Steven Spielberg in the house to lend his voice of support to, “Project Natal“.  This is one that has to be seen to be fully understood.  Full motion capture, facial recognition, and voice control available for every Xbox 360.  To quote Spielberg, “This is a pivotal moment that will carry with it a wave of change, the ripples of which will reach far beyond video games.”
  • Zune is coming to Xbox. Video Marketplace is now powered by Zune and will offer the complete movie library instant on up to 1080p qualityno discs, no delay. And if you want to watch that movie with friends online, you can meet up for a Party online with up to 7 others in a virtual screening room with your friends (you can go full screen as well).  For any fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you’ll recognize the concept is primed for Harold and Kumar or  Snakes on a Plane get-togethers online.
  • Last.fm is coming to Xbox 360 as well as Twitter and Facebook. With Facebook Connect, you’ll be able to match your FB friends with their Xbox  LIVE Gamertags making it easier than ever to figure out who Hang1nAr0und8763 is and whether you want to join their party.
  • Sky.TV. This will be one to watch – Sky is bringing their live and on-demand service “Over the Top” and delivering to the Xbox via your broadband connection with no additional hardware required.
  • Lots of Halo goodness. First there’s Halo ODST – Orbital Drop Shock Trooper.  We saw the first in-game cinematics from the opening of the game.  Then we learned Bungie is working on Halo: Reach, a new addition to the Halo canon no doubt in part based on the first Halo novel, “The Fall of Reach“.  I noticed an easter egg during the intro trailer for ODST – you can see in a someone has tagged a wall with graffiti, “Remember Reach” in the New Mombasa area.
  • 1 vs. 100 Beta. On behalf of my team I’m proud to say Xbox LIVE Primetime is off to a good start.  Last night’s opening session filled up in record time as our live events have opened up to the public. Hats off to our beta launch partner, Sprint – in this live-event game-show modeled after Endemol’s own hit TV show real Xbox LIVE members can compete for prizes including a big-screen HDTV, laptop, and much more.

There’s even more, but that’s a good start.  I’ll post more thoughts on Project Natal later. Check out all the E3 briefing details here.

imageThis weekend I spent some time assembling new playlists with Zune 3.0 for an upcoming trip.  I was visiting a # of websites to look at playlists (e.g. XMFans.com) and an annoyance was the number of steps required to copy/paste between the browser and Zune.  So I wrote an Internet Explorer 8 Accelerator to help simplify and reduce the amount of copy/paste actions.  According to the IE8 website, “Accelerators let you efficiently complete your everyday browsing activities like mapping directions, translating words, emailing your friends, and more in just a few mouse clicks.”  In building the accelerator, I discovered a wealth of detail available in Zune Marketplace on the web – you can sample music, read artists bios, browse charts, comments, similar artists and more.  

Install Zune Accelerator for IE8 (Beta 2)

To activate the accelerator, highlight the text on a page (Left Click+Drag).  You’ll see the new accelerator icon (in blue in image to right).  When you click on this, it will launch the accelerator window.

I’m sure there are better ways to do this, but it was fun and useful enough for my needs.  Other Zune accelerators tend to break out accelerators by Artist, Song, etc. instead of aggregating into one.  Maybe I’ll try and build an IE8 Web Slice for Zune Social next.   More details on writing IE8 Accelerators is available here.

For more accelerators, check out the IE8 Accelerator Gallery