Microsoft App Run @McGillU

Last week I had the chance to participate in a competition Microsoft Student Developer Evangelists were putting on @McGillU. While, the rest of the world descended on Austin, Texas, it seems as if us students at McGillU were not forgotten by Microsoft as the evangelists definitely put on quite a show. I have to say special thanks to Oscar Guerrero for putting on an impressive and impassioned event. He demoed Windows Phone 7 which is currently being lauded by various tech media outlets for doing many things right and, after first hand experience, I have to agree that this new product looks and feels great (and I’m an iPhone user)! The Nokia Lumia 800 was pretty darn sweet and I sorta want one. The other sweet demo was the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Oscar had running on his machine. It looks great but I didn’t get much playing time as there was quiet a crowd around it.

The purpose of the event though was to highlight the developer movement contest being run in Canada to promote app development by students. The developer movement is quite an awesome deal and I wish other companies adopt a similar strategy. Essentially, they are giving away prizes for apps, writing off the costs for students to enter the marketplace and helping students get the tools they need to get started. I highly recommend Canadian students get in on this before it is over in May.

At the event, Oscar delivered quite a few tutorials on Windows Phone 7 development and everything was extremely familiar to me. Reason why is because Microsoft took Silverlight for the most part and transferred as much of the Tech to the their new platform. Luckily, I had quite a bit of experience developing WPF desktop applications a few years ago and those skills were very easily transferable. I actually managed to make my first app in under 6 hours (More on that in another post). What was even better though was getting immediate advice and actual phones to test on.

Overall, the App Run was a great event and having enthusiastic evangelists on hand to help us build stuff was awesome. There’s not much that engineers like more than building stuff and doing things. A message out to all the companies that want students making apps, just follow what Microsoft did and I’m sure you’ll find rooms of excited students ready to build things. It was total fun!

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