'Microsoft Tags' set for rollout today

Steve Ballmer didn't mention Microsoft Tags in his keynote yesterday. But the new phone tool -- designed for Windows Mobile as well as Android and other environments -- is slated for announcement at CES today.

Microsoft will enter beta on Wednesday with Tags, a new phone tool developed internally by Microsoft's research division and then adopted by Microsoft's incubation arm.

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Microsoft Tags will run in its Windows Mobile environment, in addition to Android, Symbian, and other smartphone environments, said Joe Coco, product unit manager for Microsoft's MSN Direct, speaking with Betanews at Pepcom's "Digital Diner" press event last night, a couple of hours after Ballmer delivered his CES keynote.

Briefly stated, Microsoft Tags lets you build tags -- somewhat along the lines of barcodes, but containing more information -- that can then be placed on a business card or just about any other item. Once the tag is scanned in by a camera on a smartphone, the user can go directly to a Web site associated with the tag without typing in a URL.

Users don't necessarily need to be developers to build the tags, Betanews was told.

Also at CES, MSN Direct is talking up new capabilities -- such as real-time weather and greatly expanded maps -- in its information delivery services for GSM devices.

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