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The countdown to the Imagine Cup 2012 is on and our team just announced 2 new challenges for the event - Windows Azure and Windows Phone 7.

Students are now able to register for each of these challenges to compete either individually or as part of a team. The Kinect, Azure and Windows Phone 7 Challenges are run and judged online only, with winners announced on stage at the Worldwide Finals.

Windows Azure Challenge
Cloud, cloud, cloud. Nope, not Seattle’s weather pattern – an acknowledgement that cloud computing is changing the face of technology. Over 30% of teams at the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals  used Windows Azure, our cloud computing platform, into their technology designs. They changed the way education technology functions in the classroom, proved that social media can help lessen our carbon footprints, and created systems to keep medical records more organized. The Azure Challenge puts competitors at the forefront of tech.

Windows Phone Challenge - sponsored by Nokia
For its second year, the Windows Phone 7 Challenge invites students to develop socially conscious apps that will be judged on functionality, utility and user delight. Windows Phone 7 was another hit last year as I saw firsthand at the US Finals. It was the most frequent technology used among Imagine Cup students with almost half of the competing teams at the Worldwide Finals using WP7. Not only is it back, but it’s sponsored by Nokia who have a number of suggestions already available in areas such as education, health and environment on their IdeasProject website.

Check out more on the Microsoft Imagine Cup Facebook page and follow the team on @ImagineCup – next step for me is to figure out how I can get even more involved this year.