In a world where iPhone users have access to more than one million apps in the App Store, and Android users aren’t too far behind with roughly 700,000 apps at their disposal, I think it’s a safe assumption to say that a smartphone is nothing without its apps.  So even though 125,000 might sound like a lot, Microsoft and its Windows Phone are waaaayyy behind when it comes to what they have to offer smartphone users.  But they’ve launched a contest that they hope will help get those numbers up and could be a huge boost for an aspiring developer.

Microsoft’s ‘Next App Star’ is open to anyone who has a great idea and a dream! You must be a registered developer with Windows Dev Center, and all app entries must be received by March 5th, 2013.  If you already have an app with Windows, you can register and publish updates as well.

The judges will be looking at things like app quality and user ratings to narrow down the contestants to a field of 64 apps.  Bracket-style public voting will take over, just in time to coincide with March Madness.  Each week the field will be narrowed down until one app stands alone as the winner.

There are prizes for the 64 developers chosen for the bracket, and the further you get, the more you can win.  The grand prize is placement for your app in a primetime national TV commercial for the Windows Phone.

So whether you’re a hardcore software developer, a student, or just someone who likes to code for fun, why not try your luck?  If you’ve always wanted to learn, check out to pick up a new skill for free.

Follow tech-life expert Stephanie Humphrey on Twitter.