It’s been a great week here at the Imagine Cup World Finals. We brought 125 of the top students from around the world, plus another 70+ Microsoft Student Partners here to Seattle, and these young developers really brought their A game.

These students have spent the past year (or more), developing impressive solutions on Microsoft platforms and technologies. I am particularly struck by the fact that six of the nine winning projects used Azure – web services, mobile services, SQL databases, etc. In a cloud-first, mobile-first world, where people need to access their work and home data and services on a variety of platforms and devices, Azure is front-and-center for developers in meeting those needs.

Looking back, Thursday night we celebrated some of our top Imagine Cup teams at Seattle’s Space Needle, with our judges, members of the press, and our friends representing Facebook and AppCampus. It was a great evening that honored the potential of young developers.

From today, I’m also pleased to be able to share that we announced Imagine Cup is expanding to include middle and high school students worldwide. This commitment to younger developers is critical.  Technology is being used by younger and younger people every day and we want to ensure that we are reaching everyone we can, whom can benefit from Microsoft technology. We believe in the power of developers and we also believe that it’s not enough to just consume technology – we recognize a need to enable the next generation to create their own games, their own apps, their own solutions, and express themselves and their goals through the power of the same technology they use every day.

We are a company founded by developers, built by developers and we are committed to helping developers wherever and whomever they are. The makers, creators, doers, and dreamers of today, will create the future waves of innovation that we will all benefit from. This is why we are expanding Imagine Cup to welcome a new generation of students.

But we also know that we can’t just open a door for developers – we are committed to helping those unaware of software development to see its possibilities.  We will shine a light on this path, wherever possible. This aspiration is why we are marshaling the incredible talents of our seven thousand Microsoft Student Partners (MSPs) from around the world.  MSPs are college students who are already leading the charge into the latest platforms and technologies, and we are inviting them to participate in teaching this December’s Hour of Code to younger students all over the planet.

Coding is the great equalizer – the future will be built on code, at all corners of the globe.  At Microsoft, we have seen young people realize their great potential, to create bold new lives for themselves through the power of code again and again.  This is what drives us to ensure that we are always reaching out to students in fresh, relevant ways.

As we close the Imagine Cup World Finals, I’m reminded why I am so enthusiastic to be the Chief Evangelist for this company. Where others talk, Microsoft acts. We engage with the world as it is and we support and empower those who would make it a better place for themselves, their families, and their fellow people. Students in our Imagine Cup and Microsoft Student Partner programs are transforming their skills, their lives and fulfilling their dreams, making something better and more powerful along the way.

Thanks to everyone that made the Imagine Cup such a great success!

Cheers,

Guggs