Windows Phone app contest show whims of users

A Microsoft contest is collecting ideas for apps, one of which the company will build and offer to users

Microsoft is running a contest looking for ideas for Windows Phone 7 apps, offering the winner US$5,000, a free phone and a promise to actually develop and offer the app by the end of the year.

So far, the 804 entries reflect the hopes of Windows Phone fans. Some are similar to apps available on competitive platforms, some seek to leverage other Microsoft products and yet others are essentially impossible.

There's this proposal, which should take the prize for the shortest description: "Halo. For WP7." Not much more needs to be said to describe this idea.

In the probably impossible category is a request for an app that would stream Hulu on Windows Phone 7. That's unlikely because Hulu has been blocking access to the site from cell phones. It has hinted at interest in mobile, however, so maybe it's OK to hope for this one.

The top-ranked application proposal based on votes is one that would let Windows Phone 7 users access their Windows Media Center PCs from the phone. Phone users would be able to set the PC to record programs, access their video libraries and listen to music stored on the PC. "In short, it should make your Windows Phone 7 device a portable Windows Media Center Extender," the app proposer wrote.

The third-ranked idea is for an app that would bring many of the social aspects of the Microsoft Kin to Windows Phone 7. Kin phones, recently released by Microsoft on Verizon's network, are the successor to the former Danger operating system, which Microsoft acquired.

Another clever gaming idea is one that would turn a Windows Phone 7 into an Xbox 360 controller. The app would also allow gamers to use the phone's keyboard or audio to have text or voice chat with other players.

One application idea seeks tethering capabilities so that the user can connect an iPod Touch to the phone for mobile access.

Mimicking a capability available for some Nokia phones, another idea would allow essentially anyone to build an application. "A new business paradigm awaits," wrote that idea's author. The concept is similar to the Ovi app wizard that Nokia offers, aimed at letting anyone create very simple applications for Nokia phones.

Microsoft is accepting ideas for apps through July 8. It has said that the first Windows Phone 7 devices should be available by the holiday season at the end of the year.

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