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Microsoft today announced a contest aimed at college students who use SkyDrive to collaborate with Office Web Apps and/or Microsoft Office. Dubbed the Collaboration Challenge, this contest aimed at students at 10 universities across the US who are participating in business plan competitions. The grand prize is $50,000.

"Over the past few months the SkyDrive team has talked about the challenges people face with today’s personal cloud storage services," a Microsoft representative noted. "When looking at college students needs specifically, the team discovered that roughly 75 percent of college students use multiple tools to share and collaborate on documents, often leading to formatting loss, extra steps and confusion."

Students from UC Berkeley, Columbia University, Harvard University, MIT, Northwestern University, Stanford University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Washington are eligible. To win, participants must win their school's existing business plan competition and use SkyDrive to collaborate.

Microsoft is also using this as an opportunity to get a few digs in at the less capable Google Docs solution. "You could use web-based apps like Google Docs," Microsoft product manager Anand Babu notes in a blog post. "While they may work well for simple tasks, they may not have the features you need to create professional documents. You can also have formatting issues when you move between these apps and Office ... With SkyDrive, you have a better option. You can store all your files in one place, so everyone can access the latest version. You can also use free Office Web Apps for basic editing from any browser."

Be sure to check out that blog post, too, since it has a nice list of 7 power tips for collaborating in the cloud across PCs and Macs. Good stuff.