As you know, I’m always up for a little friendly competition I’m excited to announce that today, we are kicking off the first Azure Services Platform Developer Challenge.


Over the next two months, developers will have the opportunity to show off what they can do on the  Azure Services Platform. We’re looking for innovate apps developed with the user experience in mind that are applicable to the real-world and highlight new opportunities cloud computing brings to developers.  


There are a couple of surprise twists to this challenge.  The first twist is this contest will have three winners – best .NET application, a top PHP application, and one more we’ll talk about in just a bit.  For the .NET application category, we want to see a great .NET application running on Windows Azure using ASP.NET or Silverlight to incorporate additional Azure services such as .NET Services and Live Services.  Incorporate other Microsoft, 3rd party services, or other cloud services and author a unique web, mobile, or desktop application. 


For the PHP contest category running on Windows Azure, we want to see a PHP application taking interoperability to the next level by integrating with other Azure services, 3rd party web services and APIs, and services provided by other cloud providers.


The second twist to this contest is that we’re really excited that the winner of the .NET and PHP application categories will be judged by industry leaders Om Malik, founder and senior writer for the GigaOM Network, and Michael Cote, IT Management Lead analyst at RedMonk.  The winners chosen by the judges will be announced at Structure 09 on June 25.


And now the third and final twist  We are inviting the community of web and software developers to decide the third overall community winner via online voting.  This winner will be announced on June 30.


But before you head off to create your masterpiece, make sure you check out for official rules, registration info, important deadlines and to learn what money, fame, and glory are in store for three creative developers J.


Expect to see some chatter about this on Twitter.  Search for “#newCloudApp” as developers start sharing their creations online.


Good luck!