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One good thing about being a developer these days – if real work gets too tedious there’s always a competition going to try your luck at. One of the latest is from Microsoft – the company must have a full-time department which thinks them up.

This is `Invasion of the Robots’, a worldwide compo with a $40,000 prize at stake. Entrants to the UK end of it can get more prizes however, and the first 50 Brits to even compete get a £20 Firebox voucher. All you have to do in design a Robot that can be added to MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger and make sure it does something interesting or eye-catching.

Background info on bot design is available on Microsoft’s Team BritBot website and three free SDK toolkits are available for download to build the bots, which must remain “live” until at least November 15th 2006.

To enter the worldwide compo, upload the IM address of your bot here and then register on the BritBot website. Approved entries will then be open to public scrutiny and voting and, though not part of the official judging, there will be a $500 Users’ Choice award.

Four key criteria will be used for judging: user interaction, usefulness, creativity and the use of multiple Windows Live services.

The UK contest wraps up in August and prizes include the Grand Prize: Visual Studio® 2005 Team Suite with a year’s MSDN® Premium subscription, Xbox 360 bundle, Samsung 32 inch HD LCD TV, Nabaztag WiFi Rabbit, Creative Zen MicroPhoto 8GB and a Shinco Portable DVD Player. Five Spot prizes of Nabaztag WiFi Rabbits will be awarded and the winner of each category will win an Xbox 360 bundle.

The International competition closes on September 15, with the winners sharing $40,000 worth of prizes. The top prize is a $10,000 Alienware MJ-12 7550 workstation. A full list of the prizes can be found here

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