What will it take to get developers to try Windows Azure? Microsoft improves its trial offer

Microsoft has announced an improved introductory trial for Windows Azure. You can now get:

  • 750 hours of an Extra Small Compute Instance
  • 25 hours of a Small Compute Instance
  • 500MB storage
  • 10,000 storage transactions
  • 500MB in / 500MB out data transfer
  • 1G Web Edition SQL Azure database

The offer lasts until the end of June, after which you will be charged at standard rates. The allowances are I believe per month – note that 750 hours is approximately the number of hours in a month so you can run an extra small instance continuously. This is the main change from the previous trial, which only offered 25 hours of a small compute instance.

You cannot sign up without handing over credit card details.

Further, some of these limits are not really generous. This blog, for example, would chew through those data transfer limits in no time.

Microsoft is also less generous than Amazon, which offers a year of free usage with data transfer of 15GB in and 15GB out per month. Google App Engine is free up to 1GB or persistent storage and about 5 million pages views a month.

I guess Microsoft needs to figure out whether it wants to target mainly enterprise and large-scale applications, or to offer a commodity platform to a broader market. I doubt this offer is aimed at enterprises. After all, serious commercial developers on Microsoft’s platform have MSDN subscriptions, which with premium and ultimate subscriptions already offer inclusive Azure time that is better than this: 7GB in and 14 GB out per month, for example. Startups on the BizSpark scheme also get this allowance.

This offer is for the rest of us then. It is certainly getting easier to try Azure, but is this enough to encourage experimentation? I suspect Microsoft may need to come even closer to what is offered by the competition.

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3 comments to What will it take to get developers to try Windows Azure? Microsoft improves its trial offer

  • It might also be that they don’t want too many to flood their platform yet, which could be why they slowly make it more available. I think this would be an odd strategy though, it is likely better to hype the platform by having to deny people access due to “over demand”, but on the flip side it will make it much harder for them to upgrade their OS in the rate they might want to and thus keep the numbers down.

  • Vic Klien

    Hi Tim,

    Point-of-order…

    Any chance you could add some kind of email notification to your blog? When someone added a post, subscribers would be notified. This works well on MS’s forums.

    Vic

  • Vic Klien

    Another feature that would be nice would be the ability to edit any existing posts I had made.

    Thanks,
    Vic