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Microsoft Starting Contest for Surface Developers

Redmond is taking steps to increase Microsoft Surface developer participation.

The company added a Web portal to its developer network that will make it easier for its more than 640,000 partners to sign up. The portal, called "Microsoft Surface QuickStart," is accessible here.

Developers using Microsoft's Surface table-top computer and software development kit (SDK) can expect to pay about $15,000 for the unit and the kit.

In addition, Microsoft will open a contest for Surface developers called "Touch First" that can be accessed at this page on Monday. The company will give away a Microsoft Surface unit to contest winners, who will be announced at the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference in November.

Contestants are expected to build an application that taps into another part of the Microsoft product stack than just Windows Presentation Foundation. WPF is the basis of the multitouch Surface graphical interface, along with the XNA gaming framework.

Surface is a Windows Vista-based table-top touch screen that can support more than four dozen finger tips at the same time without degradation in performance, according to Brad Carpenter, general manager of software development for Microsoft Surface. The screen uses a "vision system" consisting of five cameras that can record finger interactions at a rate of 60 frames per second, he explained. The main software interface is through "tags," which are recognizable software objects on the display.

Microsoft released Surface SDKs in limited batches at past trade shows. The last update to the Surface SDK was Service Pack 1, released at Microsoft Tech-Ed in May. Carpenter said no updates to the Surface SDK will be expected at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, which starts next week in New Orleans.

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference attendees will be able to network with others at the event by placing their attendee cards down on Surface tables at the event, Carpenter said.

Microsoft has three levels of partnership with Surface, Carpenter explained. The lowest level is the Microsoft Surface Community Member, which gives people access to the Workstation Edition SDK. Next are Microsoft Surface Partners, who get access to the SDK, the Surface application logo and marketing support. At the top level are Microsoft Surface Strategic Partners, who get special attention from Microsoft's field sales force.

Microsoft Surface applications are currently used in about six vertical markets, including entertainment, hospitality, education, retail, real estate and insurance. Microsoft has more than 200 Surface partners, Carpenter said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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