Microsoft Recruits College Students To Crank Out Win 8 Apps

BusinessWeek has an interesting article about NERD, or rather, Microsoft's New England Research & Development Center. This branch of the Redmond company has recruited college students to write apps that will help fill the Windows Store prior to Windows 8's launch. However this summer's batch of 21 interns only managed to crank out five apps, three of which are already available and two that are on the way.

“Microsoft is definitely playing catch-up with respect to the global app marketplace,” said David Hilal, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, in an interview. “Their challenge is a chicken-and-egg problem. They need to get more users for their apps to entice developers, but they need better apps to attract more users.”

Currently there's a significant number of apps on the Windows Store – there are even apps for Tom's Hardware and Tom's Guide – but their number pales in comparison to Apple's App Store and Google Play. Even more, Microsoft is pushing to offer apps for two platforms: the ARM-based Windows RT and the x86/x64-based Windows 8 Pro.

"The apps ecosystem is probably the single most important factor in a customer’s experience," said Al Hilwa, an analyst at market researcher IDC. "It dictates what books you read, what music you listen to, what movies you see, what social activities you take part in. Problem is, you can’t have half a million apps overnight."

Microsoft reportedly recruited interns last year to write prototype apps for the Windows 8 preview. They generated six apps which in turn generated enough interest among computer science students for Microsoft to make the pilot program a permanent thing.

As for the actual apps, Catch It is a commuter-transit app slated to launch later this month. There's also Trackage which allows users to track packages shipped by FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Post Office and LaserShip, and an alarm clock called Never Late. Inkarus is a physics-based game featuring a chubby penguin who must collect components for a flying machine, and FaceReel uses facial recognition to generate videos out of a set of images.

Ultimately NERD aims to create a devoted group of Windows 8 "converts" who will spread good cheer throughout all the land of computer science majors and design students, convincing them to develop Windows 8 apps too.

"Because Windows 8 is pre-release, it’s been so exciting to get my hands on it before other people have been able to," said Emily Lin, a media arts and sciences major at Wellesley College, who served as the designer on the Catch It team. "When I tell my friends, they say, 'That’s so cool that you are getting to develop on Windows 8.'"

To read the full article, head here.

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  • coder543
    a chubby penguin? I'm confused... they can't be making a Linux reference, are they?
  • pjmelect
    Windows r8pe will fail.
  • DroKing
    Just give up Microsoft because Windows 8 is pure trash.
  • spentshells
    unpolished software from thee likes of college kids who have skill but no experience. That is the plan to compete with apple ? Windows 8 is going to be a malware Slut......
  • aicom
    spentshellsunpolished software from thee likes of college kids who have skill but no experience.At least it's better than business students with no skills or experience writing apps ;)
  • edogawa
    DroKingJust give up Microsoft because Windows 8 is pure trash.
    Pure trash? No. Metro does not equate to an entire OS becoming pure trash. That would be like saying Linux is pure trash because it does not have the compatibility and support that Windows does.

    Windows 8 is infact great, but the UI is drastically changed which is the only real negative; you can always use WinStart to restore the old start menu(while retaining the ability to use Metro if desired).
  • boiler1990
    This sort of program is actually a great idea. I went to school with a lot of electrical engineers with tons of programming experience (pretty necessary for the degree), and they all had great app ideas that they wanted to develop. A few of them actually are working for MSFT now.
  • jintonic
    I go to college for C #. Problem is, Microsoft never came to my school to invite me or anyone I know to help out on this.
  • Downloaded Visual studio Express for windows desktop, OMG flat monotone POS, Full of bugs, I guess microsoft wants us to debug their crappy code for them, RTM my A$$. Windows MixUP IDE it what they should call it, beacuse microsoft changes the GUI so often! When microsoft says release to market, I will forever think FDT, flush down toilet! Took a while to uninstall too, as 21 other software items where installed to support it! Microsoft, your one size fits all marketing will be your downfall!
  • Benihana
    They're really trying so hard lol. For every 1 recruit they get for this NERD program, there's probably 10 Apple "Geeks" and 100 Googlers writing code for their preferred platforms.