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The Microsoft Imagine Cup brings together students from all over the world and asks them to use their creativity and passion for technology to help solve the world’s toughest problems. This year, more than 350,000 students from 183 countries and regions registered to compete and, from July 8-13, the finalists (more than 400 students from 70 countries) will meet for the Worldwide Finals in New York City.

Beginning today, people around the world will have the opportunity to get involved in the excitement through the Imagine Cup People’s Choice Award.

And we want to ask for your help.

Please go to the People’s Choice Award site and vote – and then ask your friends, family and network to vote. The more people learn about this, meet the students, and see the projects, the more they see how innovative our technologies are and how they can be used to truly change the world.  

Here are some of the examples of our technologies in action through Imagine Cup: 

· It’s not just the phone that’s smart: Windows Phone7 is the most commonly used technology with 47% of the project teams (53 total) creating WP7-based solutions ranging from finding the nearest recycling center to helping disaster victims broadcast their location.

· Head in the clouds: 46% (31 teams) of Software Design teams are using Windows Azure in their projects – whether it’s aggregating crowd-sourced data, overcoming geographical boundaries or integrating satellite data.

· Students take the lead on new technologies: 10 projects feature Microsoft Kinect technology ranging from physical rehabilitation to educational engagement.

· No need to ask for directions: 30% of project teams (34 total) integrated Bing Maps into their solutions – ranging from showing malaria outbreak locations to helping with traffic management to helping cities become more accessible.

· Bringing it all together: 16 of the projects use Azure, Windows Phone 7 AND Bing Maps with solutions ranging from finding carpools to predicting disasters due to water flow. 

The People’s Choice Award is just one component of several competitions and prizes at the Imagine Cup. From creating apps and videos to building Web sites and embedded solutions, students are truly helping to change the world with Microsoft technologies. Please take advantage of YOUR opportunity to  support these students to realize their full potential, helping them grow academically, start companies that thrive, and have an impact in their communities and around the globe.