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mstagMicrosoft’s Tag barcode service will shut down in two years, according to a notice issued by the company this morning.

The company hasn’t explained the reason for the move, but the decision raises questions about the long-term viability of barcodes as a bridge between the physical and digital worlds, with wireless technologies such as NFC working more seamlessly to provide that link.

Microsoft Tags, originally unveiled in 2009, are patterned, color barcodes that were used by advertisers in magazines — letting readers scan a code with their phones to find out more information about a particular ad or product.

Under the Microsoft Tag phase-out, the service will continue running as is until Aug. 19, 2015. Microsoft says it has licensed the technology to Scanbuy, operator of the ScanLife service, to continue supporting Microsoft Tags for existing customers.



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