'Hackathon' a window to worldwide event

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Brandon Hilde, foreground, gets some help from Bryson Bechtel during the start of the WOWZAPP 2012 "hackathon" at Walla Walla University Sunday. The college was one of the locations for the worldwide event, which brought computer enthusiasts together to develop apps for the Windows 8 program.

COLLEGE PLACE — A classroom at Walla Walla University became a portal to a worldwide event Sunday.

About 30 students from WWU, Walla Walla Valley Academy and other schools went online to link up with thousands of other developers for WOWZAPP 2012, a global “hackathon” sponsored by Microsoft Corporation to develop apps for the company’s new Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms.

The students who came together Sunday to work on games and other applications all had an eye toward cashing in on a huge market. According to the company, an estimated 600 million personal computers are running Windows 7 while about a billion computers in the world are using other versions of Windows.

According to Rory Ross, the Microsoft student partner who organized the WWU event, developers who create an app accepted by the company for sale can opt to keep up to 80 percent of their earnings. With the potential for sales to millions of users, the incentive to design the next “Angry Birds” is strong, to put it mildly.

In a release, Moorthy Uppaluri, general manager of Worldwide Academic Programs at Microsoft, said more than 17,000 students registered to participate in the event, which kicked off Friday and ran through Sunday at more than 100 locations across five continents.

Microsoft provided students with free software, such as Visual Studio Express for Windows 8, and with free Windows Store registration codes through Microsoft DreamSpark Developer. Experts and trainers were also available to answer questions from participants during the event.

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