Microsoft To Host Free App Labs For Windows 8 Developers In 30 Cities Around The World

It’s no secret that Microsoft is doing its best to get more developers to write apps for its Windows 8 platform. Today, the company is announcing its newest initiative: Microsoft will host app labs for developers in 30 “technology and design hubs” around the world, including San Francisco, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Berlin, Shanghai, and Bangalore.

These free four-hour lab sessions will, according to Microsoft, provide developers with “in-depth technical guidance and leading design assistance to get [their] app launched in the Windows Store.” Developers who are interested in signing up for these labs can do so here. In most locations, it seems, Microsoft plans to host these events quite regularly, but it’s not clear how long this initiative is scheduled to run.

Microsoft hosted the first app lab in partnership with RocketSpace earlier this month. According to Microsoft, 120 entrepreneurs, designers and developers attended this kick-off event. As Microsoft’s Antoine Leblond writes in today’s announcement, the company believes that the Windows Store “is a tremendous opportunity not just for established software development companies, but for individuals and startups that have the creativity and ambition to build great, next-generation apps.”

According to Leblond, “nearly half a million developers and entrepreneurs from more than 80 countries” have already started building Metro-style Windows 8 Store apps. It’s worth noting that the Windows Store itself is already open in 200 markets and currently supports more than 100 languages. According to the latest data from Win App Update (Microsoft itself doesn’t release its own numbers for the Store), there are currently about 16,000 apps in the Store worldwide and 9,343 in the U.S. This makes the “half a million” Leblond cites in his post seem a bit high, but maybe he is counting SDK downloads here and not developer registrations for the store.

Last weekend, Microsoft also hosted its global Wowzapp hackathon, which about 17,000 developers attended (most of them students). This event, too, focused on the Windows platform.