Microsoft launches Windows 8 Store contest

Microsoft has finally started to show off what will become the Windows 8 app store, but in order to drum up some content ahead of the planned February beta release it's offering prizes for the best submissions.

Windows 8's biggest departure from previous releases - aside from its support for processors based on the ARM instruction set, making it Microsoft's answer to the success of Android in the tablet market - is the inclusion of the Metro UI, a touch-centric interface based on that of Windows Phone 7.

Applications developed for Metro are distinct from traditional Windows software packages - although the latter will still be available - and will be given away or sold through a dedicated Windows 8 on-line store front, in much the same way as Canonical releases software through the Software Centre and Apple through the Mac App Store.

An app store with no content, however, isn't much of a draw, and with a public beta of Windows 8 expected to drop in February, Microsoft hasn't got long to grab developers' interest and fill its boots with software.

To help things along, the company has announced a competition with some pretty impressive prizes: winners chosen by the judging panel will receive a Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC tablet, as seen at the BUILD conference, a one-year subscription to Windows Azure, and a two-year subscription to the Windows Store.

The judges will be looking for apps that truly embrace the Metro style principles, while checking for adaptability to differing resolutions and form factors. As a result, the testing will take place on the aforementioned tablet at 1376x768 and on a high-end laptop running at 1920x1080.

Submissions are due by the 8th January, at which point the judges will deliberate and pick the winners by the 15th January. Those lucky enough to be chosen will be told to update the app for compatibility with "a new, confidential Windows 8 build" - which is to say the public beta release - and resubmit by the 3rd February.

Full details, along with instructions on how to enter, are available over on the official competition page.