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Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more

01_ The Partner

Founded in 1975, Microsoft develops, manufactures, licenses computer related products and services. It has grown to being one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Under Satya Nadella, the company has put tremendous efforts in being more open. Chakra Core, TypeScript or its recent decision to join the Linux foundation are concrete examples that demonstrate their will to move further in that direction.

We collaborated with Microsoft Belux. Their office is located in Zaventem, near Brussels.

Microsoft going open source

02_ The Challenge

The main challenge for Microsoft is to get their product adopted and eventually reach a critical adoption rate.

Every year, Microsoft releases many products and solutions aimed at developers. Most of them are cutting edge and have the potential to be the building blocks of disruptive solutions.

However, they’re not the only one. The pace at which new tech products are released and the overall number of tech product has grown exponentially. It has become almost impossible for developers to keep up with all the new solutions on the market.

tech product landscape


Tech companies that are popular among communities of developers have more chances to get their product tested and eventually adopted.

Despite their recent efforts, many developers still perceive Microsoft as a rigid and old fashioned company.

As a result, either developers just don’t know about the product or if they do, they don’t take the time to try it. No matter how relevant or useful it might be for their work or personal projects.

The goal for the Hack League team?

Get more communities of developer to try and experience Microsoft’s products.
Give Microsoft the opportunity to interact directly with with communities of passionate developers and show what they’ve been up to.
And ultimately, relay the feedback from these tech enthusiasts which will help Microsoft teams improve their products and image.

03_ The Approach

Just giving a workshop or a hands-on experience on Microsoft’s products was not enough.

As always, we wanted it to be memorable, insightful and fun.

The Coding Battles are short in term of development, they “only” last 3 hours. To make it truly enjoyable for participants, we have to reduce friction as much as possible. We always aim for plug and play events where participants have very little to no configuration to do.

We have organized several Coding Battles with Microsoft.

  • The rise of the bots (Bot Framework)
  • Browser War (Edge browser)
  • Connect the dots (IoT Core)
  • Cognitive Services (Emotion API)
microsoft IoT Coding Battle

What was delivered?

Let’s take the last Coding Battle featuring the Emotion API as our case study. We created a game that was a simplified version of poker.

The teams had to use Microsoft’s emotion API to read their opponents’ facial expressions. By analyzing the gathered data, the teams could understand the strategies of their opponents and draw patterns from them.

By combining the rules of the game and the patterns that they found, the teams could build their very own players that would make them beat their opponents.

More than 30 people participated to the event.

What was needed from Microsoft?

  • A discussion to agree on the theme (Cognitive Services – Emotion API)
  • A discussion to explain the concept and give feedback on the game that the Hack League team came up with
  • Setup Shared API that participants could use during the Coding Battle
  • Give useful documentation links that participants could read before or use during the Coding Battle
  • Have at least one expert attending the Coding Battle to coach participants that would require help with the Emotion API
  • Provide the location with tables, chairs and a projector. Take care of the food and drinks for participants.
fun at Coding Battle Microsoft

04_ The Result

Such an event has two kind of benefits for Microsoft, both direct and indirect.

Direct benefits

All the participants used Microsoft technologies. They got the chance to experience and test it. The feedback was very positive.

More than 90% of participants said they would reuse the cognitive services in their future work or project if such a technology had to be used.

And 80% said they would check the other API from Cognitive Services.

“Being part of the Hack League has been a great experience. It allowed us to directly interact with a group of passionate developers and get their immediate feedback through a hands-on experience with our technology.”

NICK TROGH – Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft

Indirect benefits

85% of the participants said they loved the event, 15% said they liked it.

This positive feeling improves the overall perception that the participants had from the company.
Which means that they will also talk positively about their experience with Microsoft around them.

“The Coding Battle was just great! I didn’t know about the Cognitive Services. Impressive stuff. I already see many ways to implement them in my current work. I didn’t know Microsoft had gone that far.” – Juan S.

end of Coding Battle at Microsoft

Go beyond business as usual

Interested to see how we could work together?