January 7, 2009 saw the initial release of the Microsoft Tag reader, now nearly three years later the latest release includes a QR Code scanner. The new version also includes an NFC tag reader for NFC tags that have been embedded with URLs generated by Microsoft Tag Manager. It is with a sense of irony that I noticed on the same day as the new release the print edition of USA Today, a regular user of Microsoft Tags, had replaced them with a QR Code on the front page (image left).
In my opinion the addition of a QR Code scanner does more to help existing users of the MS Tag reader than it does to advance the cause of Microsoft Tags. Rather than incorporate a QR Code scanner into their proprietary reader Microsoft should look to providing the hundreds of QR Code scanner app developers with an SDK to incorporate an MS Tag decoder. Even that would probably be too late and not enough to stop the exponential rise in the popularity of QR Codes.
I delayed writing about this development for 24 hours while I tested the new QR Code scanner. It seems to work well although the framing area on my Galaxy S2 is about 10% of the full screen area, which is too small. I also tested the QR Code scanner to see if any data is sent to Microsoft servers (for non-Microsoft generated QR Codes) in the same way as it is when scanned with some other readers and I am pleased to say it is not.