Microsoft SA has thrown down the gauntlet to South African developers taking part in a competition to find the best locally-developed Facebook applications, challenging them to build applications using the company’s Silverlight programming platform. 

The competition, being run by Internet applications developer Mentez, has already attracted more than 250 entrants. On top of the prizes Mentez is already sponsoring, Microsoft will give out an Xbox 360 system, including a games bundle, to the best application developed using Silverlight.
Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in designed to deliver the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web.
Mentez launched the competition – which carries a top prize of R40 000.00 – to promote and sponsor the development of Facebook applications in South Africa, encouraging Internet entrepreneurship.
Earlier this year, Microsoft bought 1,6% of Facebook in a deal worth about $15-billion.
Mentez MD Juan Franco says the contest highlights “the exciting opportunities possible on the Facebook platform” due to the ability to integrate with user profiles and exploit the distribution infrastructure, which has millions of existing users and billions of connections.
Globally, more than 50-million people have signed up on Facebook.
“Facebook has done some great work in defining the Internet social experience,” says Microsoft SA’s Dave Ives. “Its value lies in the way that audience interacts with the site and with each other. And the audience is huge. We’re delighted to be part of any effort that looks to drive local interest in the site.”
With more than 150 groups signed up, anyone with programming skills and enthusiasm – whether individuals or teams, big or small companies – can register for free on the Mentez website at before 22 December.
Those selected from the preliminary round will then go on to develop the application before 31 January.
The complete applications will run on Facebook for six weeks and users will select the five most successful.
Microsoft and Mentez are hosting workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town in January 2008 to present the best practices and technologies to develop applications for Facebook. All developers registered in the contest will be invited to these sessions.