Steve Ballmer hugs DirectX/XNA MVP Valentin Billote , winner of the Windows Phone 7 Applications Challenge

The outcome of a two-month challenge to create the best Windows Phone 7 application in France will come as no surprise to fans of the MVP community. MVPs not only took first and second place, but nearly half of the seven finalists were MVPs—out of a field of 250! 

Windows Phone 7 applications created by MVPs Valentin Billotte, Fabien Decret, and Julien Dollon ranked among the highest in Facebook tallies, in a challenge that garnered more than 20,000 votes. Microsoft Developer Platform Evangelists then selected the seven finalists, who earned the right to “pitch” their application to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and a panel of highly-respected French technology leaders.

Decret recalled his decision to participate in the challenge: “The Windows Phone 7 French Competition was the best opportunity for the Adeneo Embedded team to highlight its competencies on Windows Phone 7 application development. We were so excited to start the job. While we were writing down our ideas to make a selection, we got in touch with GoProd, a company focused on the UI design who was looking for a partner to collaborate with. GoProd had an idea of what they wanted to submit, but didn’t have competencies on Windows Phone 7. Together, we created the Win Mote 7 application: a remote control application allowing the user to access and control various media including videos, pictures, and music, as well as surf the web and control a PowerPoint presentation on their Windows 7 PC via its WP7 device.” 

The selected finalists were each given two minutes to pitch their applications—in a packed auditorium, filled with members of the media and some the biggest names in technology.

“The stage gave us a fright: there were a lot of people in the hall,” continued Decret, describing the experience. “First a very impressive jury entered. Then Steve Ballmer arrived to thunderous applause. All selected applications were very interesting. We were the last ones to present our app. After our two-minute presentation, seven blue lights switched on and only one red cross appeared.”

The winning application, Arcane Tower Defense, is a game developed by DirectX/XNA MVP Valentin Billote. The demo for Arcane Tower Defense is available here. To download Fabien Decret's WinMote demo, it is available here, and Julien Dollon's demo, Ahead - can be viewed here.

“This was one of the most memorable days of my life,” said Billote. “Our team won! Yet we had no application using Silverlight and / or Windows Azure, but a great game with powerful 3D graphics and a lot of R & D thanks to the XNA Game Studio. The 3D quality graphics really pleased the jury. Our young company, GraphicStream, was created specifically for the release of WP7 and game development on this platform. It could not start better!”

“Personally I enjoyed the big hug with Steve,” Billote continued. “And giving a voucher to play my game to his daughter—plus participating in a super challenge with leading French bosses!”