Winners could take home $5,000 gift cards

Microsoft is the world's largest software company and supports one of the largest developer communities of any company on the planet. The developers who design applications to work with Microsoft services can be credited with some of the successes of Microsoft platforms and applications.

Microsoft has announced a new contest for the developer community that is intended to highlight the capabilities of the Windows Azure cloud and Azure Services Platform. The contest is called the Azure Services Platform Developer Challenge and will allow the developers to show their capabilities by designing an application or highlighting an existing applications running on Windows Azure and its services platform.

The contest is underway now reports eWeek and will run through June 18. Three categories are represented in the contest with one for .NET apps, one for PHP apps, and one for an overall winner chosen by the community. Microsoft says that the apps designed for the contest should run on Azure and integrate additional Azure services like .NET Services and Live Services, third party applications, and APIs to push interoperability.

Steven Martin of Microsoft in a blog posting wrote, "We’re looking for innovative apps developed with the user experience in mind that are applicable to the real world and highlight new opportunities cloud computing brings to developers."

The specifications for the PHP category are not as straight forward as the needs for the .NET category. Martin says, "For the PHP contest category running on Windows Azure, we want to see a PHP application taking interoperability to the next level by integrating with other Azure services, third-party Web services and APIs, and services provided by other cloud providers."

The two application category winners will be chosen by Om Malik and Michael Cote. Winners of the contest will be featured on the Azure website and at Microsoft events. Winners will also receive $5,000 Visa gift card for each main category and the community winner will get a $2,500 Visa gift card.

The tech community was buzzing this week after the launch date for Microsoft's Windows 7 OS was leaked.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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