It’s an app world. The success of iOS and Android (as well as the lack of success for Blackberry and others) can be directly attributed to the way that apps have taken over our daily lives. The abundance of tools and games on a platform directly influences how well they will be adopted.
Microsoft knows this and is going full-steam ahead with the concept as they prepare to launch Windows 8. At every level of the operating system, they hope to load it up with the degree of apps that have helped the competition succeed in recent years. To do so, they need adoption from developers.
They have held various hackathons and devcamps over the past several months to bolster their inventory of apps, but their current attempt is the most intriguing. Their “Windows 8 App-a-Thon” is underway and takes a different spin on the concept of developer-based events.
Rather than focusing on a single venue and hoping that the right amount of talent is willing to travel, they have teamed up with a Silicon Valley startup CoderCharts to put on an online event. Submissions are currently being accepted from teams across the country and around the world with substantial prizes being offered to the best of the best.
The event, which goes on through August 26th, aims to eliminate the challenge that most commonly hampers hackathons: logistics. It isn’t always easy for teams of programmers and developers to go to San Francisco or New York where many of the events are held. As a result, the full potential of such events is rarely reached.
By creating an online-only environment, Microsoft is opening the doors to many who would normally not be able to participate.
There is a social component to hackathons that can be lost by doing it completely online, but CoderCharts has created a few different ways to make it social at least from a virtual perspective. They’ve built a Facebook Group, Facebook Page, forum, and Twitter hashtags (#win8apphack and #windows8) for participants and spectators to keep up with the latest trends and socialize.
Windows 8 is “dev-lite” according to Walter Apail, a veteran programmer who has built apps for iOS and Android amongst other platforms.
“Microsoft makes it pretty easy to build some impressive apps in a short period of time,” he said. “I can get 2 or 3 strong submissions built in a couple of days.”
Judging is being handled in a different format as well. There is a panel as is normally associated with hackathons, but there is also an online component that puts half of the voting into the hands of the spectators.
Categories available for submission are:
- Utility apps – Productivity, Tools, Government, Business, Security, Finance
- Lifestyle apps – Social, Photo, Music & Video, News & Weather, Health & Fitness, Food & Dining, Shopping, Travel
- Edutainment apps – Games, Education, Entertainment, Sports, Books & Reference
Microsoft is venturing into unknown territory with this event, but considering the importance of apps and the effect they will have on the success of Windows 8’s launch, it is an experiment worth watching very closely.