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Microsoft Spring Cleans Windows Azure

Although not quite the right time of year for spring cleaning, Microsoft has chosen this December period to freshen up the Windows Azure cloud computing portal and platform with new open source capabilities, SQL Azure database enhancements, and a simplified Windows Azure billing and management experience.

With an arguably quite attractive page refresh, Azure’s web resources are still presented with the same welcome, tour, scenarios, and case study information they have sported for a while now. Looking deeper, developers will find tangible changes like the first Windows Azure software development kit (SDK), which includes language libraries for Node.JS with support for hosting, storage, and service bus.

Microsoft also specifies that it is delivering an Apache Hadoop-based service for Azure to bolster the platform's "Big Data" functionality for, logically, more advanced data analytics. The maximum database size for SQL Azure will triple, moving from 50GB to 150GB and will include a new price cap for the largest SQL Azure databases, reducing the effective price 67 percent per gigabyte. Industry comment has suggested that a price cap will now be introduced at $499.95 as the upper limit here.

According to Microsoft's (server, tools, and business) STB blog, "We've been working hard to make the experience of getting started and managing applications on Windows Azure even easier for new and existing customers. Today's update offers a truly free 90-day trial and spending caps that simplify the sign-up process. Also, customers can check out the new Windows Azure Management Portal to view real-time usage and billing details that put them in control of how much they spend and use on the cloud platform."

Updates will include a free 90-day trial period with spending caps that aim to simplify the sign-up process. Developers are urged to check out the new Windows Azure Management portal to view real-time usage and billing. Sources report that North America and Europe will enjoy reduced pricing for data transfer as the rack rate slides from $0.15 per GB to $0.12.

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