This paper describes recent work on high-occupancy effects in semiconductor microcavities, with emphasis on the variety of new physics and the potential for applications that has been demonstrated recently. It is shown that the ability to manipulate both exciton and photon properties, and how they interact together to form strongly coupled exciton-photon coupled modes, exciton polaritons, leads to a number of very interesting phenomena, which are either difficult or impossible to achieve in bulk semiconductors or quantum wells. The very low polariton density of states enables state occupancies greater than one to be easily achieved, and hence stimulation phenomena to be realized under conditions of resonant excitation. The particular form of the lower polariton dispersion curve in microcavities allows energy and momentum conserving polariton-polariton scattering under resonant excitation. Stimulated scattering of the bosonic quasi-particles occurs to the emitting state at the center of the Brillouin zone, and to a companion state at high wave vector. The stimulation phenomena lead to the formation of highly occupied states with macroscopic coherence in two specific regions of k space. The results are contrasted with phenomena that occur under conditions of nonresonant excitation. Prospects to achieve "polariton lasing" under nonresonant excitation, and high-gain, room-temperature ultrafast amplifiers and low-threshold optical parametric oscillator under resonant excitation conditions are discussed.