Microsoft gets a lot of flak for its Windows Store. Some developers push out low-quality apps at a high price or simply repurpose existing ones. There seems to be little oversight, leading to what looks like a marketplace full of junk.
However, within that volume, there are still some real gems. Microsoft seeks to highlight those with its new Windows Developer Awards system. At Build this year, Microsoft announced the winners in five categories.
Ninja Cat of the Year
Microsoft’s first award is a special recognition It seeks to celebrate the developer or experience the company feels aligns with its philosophy. This year’s winner is Koposight.
#ICYMI: See who took home the first-ever #NinjaCat at last night's Windows Developer Awards! #MSBuild pic.twitter.com/I5Z5fXsrHo
— Windows Developer (@windowsdev) May 11, 2017
“What originally started as a school project has now become something much larger,” said Microsoft. “Kophosight is driven by a desire to make everyday life better for the deaf. Built on the Universal Windows Platform using Unity, with Microsoft HoloLens as the centerpiece, Kophosight translates the spoken word into sign language. When someone speaks to the user wearing a HoloLens, hands are displayed next to the person speaking that translates their spoken word into sign language, allowing for a natural conversation without both people having to know sign language.”
App Creator of the Year
As well an overall recognition, Microsoft is rewarding devs from different genres. This award goes to those with the best implementation of Windows 10 capabilities like Dial, Ink, and Cortana.
djay Pro has over 30 million downloads, providing toolkits for DJs via a full UWP experience. The app supports touch, Surface Dial, over 60 MIDI controllers and more, making is a perfect selection.
Game Creator of the Year
Of course, a big part of Microsoft is games, and the company wants to award new developers in that area.
“Windows is the best gaming platform–and it’s easy to see why. From Xbox to PCs to mixed reality, developers are creating the next generation of gaming experiences,” said a spokesperson. “This award recognizes developers who went above and beyond to publish innovative, engaging and magical games to the Windows Store over the last year.”
The immensely popular Astroneer fits that bill. Players explore space, shaping the procedurally generated terrain and gathering resources. They can team with up to 4 friends to build custom vehicles, spaceships, and more.
Reality Mixer of the Year
Though it’s still in its infancy, it’s clear Microsoft has big plans for mixed reality. Things will really kick off with the launch of several devices this year, but there are already some great apps.
MyLab aligns with Microsoft’s goal to educate and provide non-traditional learning experiences. An interactive periodic table is complete with floating atoms, their structures, and comparisons. Creator Lucas Rizzotto provides the app free of charge and will soon add the ability to craft molecules in real time.
Core Maker of the Year
Though Microsoft is primarily a software company, there’s a lot of appreciation for physical builds. The Core Maker award “applauds those who go beyond the traditional software interface to integrate Windows into drones, PIs, gardens, and robots.”
This year, the Nova Underwater ROV was voted in. The vehicle runs on a raspberry PI 3 with Windows 10 IoT core and a UWP app to control it. It even uses an Xbox controller for steering via a power tether.
Thisis only the beginning of Microsoft’s award ceremony, with plans to announce new winners every year from now on. No doubt we will continue to see innovate uses of the UWP platform as Windows 10 evolves.