Microsoft recently held what some are calling a hackathon at the company’s campus in Redmond. 40 teams of coders were brought together for the four-day event with cold, hard cash at stake. But instead of looking for exploits or designing malicious software, these talented coders were tasked with creating new and innovative Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Azure applications.

It’s all part of the Build conference, an annual event where developers come together for a week filled with all things Microsoft. Hackathon participants are no different than other conference attendees, meaning they must pick and choose which educational sessions they wish to attend in addition to racking their brains as part of the competition.

Of course, the competition is also a learning experience in itself. Teams work under the watchful eye of mentors that guide them through the process of creating thoughtful apps that not only look good but run well on Windows 8. These mentors are Microsoft employees that have been working with the various platforms in question for several months.

Getting more developers involved in the new Windows 8 ecosystem is precisely why Microsoft holds these types of events. Despite a solid showing on the hardware side with Surface, Microsoft has received a lot of criticism over the fact that there simply aren’t very many third party apps available for the platform thus far.

Winappupdate says there are roughly 10,000 apps in the store at this point, a figure that pales in comparison to offerings from Apple and Google. Developers will no doubt be looking to build apps for Microsoft in the coming months but as of writing, Windows 8 apps are off to a slow start.