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Microsoft is pulling out all the stops in its bid to bolster the catalog of apps for its latest versions of Windows and Windows Phone.

After hosting thousands of developers in a giant tent in Redmond last week for the Build conference, the company tomorrow will kick off a three-day “Worldwide Hackathon for Windows,” also known as WOWZAPP, taking place in locations around the globe.

Yes, hackathons are a dime a dozen these days, but get this: Microsoft says that more than 16,000 student developers have signed up to spend the weekend building apps as part of the event. Which honestly made me scratch my head a bit until I noticed the key ingredient: free food.

It “will be the largest simultaneous hackathon of student developers ever, acting as a catalyst to bring a wealth of new, exciting and quality apps to the Windows Store,” says Moorthy Uppaluri, Microsoft’s general manager of Worldwide Academic Programs, in a statement. “Microsoft is committed to empowering students with the tools and resources they need to showcase their creativity and make money through app development.”

Of course, the company is committed to building that catalog of apps, and this is just one of the ways it’s trying to make it happen.

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