Technology update: Windows Azure SDK 1.3 and the new Windows Azure Management Portal Now Available

At PDC10 last month, we announced a host of enhancements for Windows Azure designed to make it easier
for customers to run existing Windows applications on Windows Azure, enable more
affordable platform access and improve the Windows Azure developer and IT
Professional experience. Today, we're happy to announce that several of these
enhancements are either generally available or ready for you to try as a Beta or
Community Technology Preview (CTP). Below is a list of what's now available,
along with links to more information.

The following functionality is now generally available through the Windows Azure
SDK and Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio release 1.3
and the new Windows Azure Management

  • Development of more complete applications using Windows Azure is now
    possible with the introduction of Elevated Privileges and Full IIS.
    Developers can now run a portion or all of their code in Web and Worker roles
    with elevated administrator privileges. The Web role now provides Full IIS
    functionality, which enables multiple IIS sites per Web role and the ability to
    install IIS modules.
  • Remote Desktop functionality enables customers to connect to a
    running instance of their application or service in order to monitor activity
    and troubleshoot common problems.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Roles: Windows Azure now supports Windows
    Server 2008 R2 in its Web, worker and VM roles. This new support enables you to
    take advantage of the full range of Windows Server 2008 R2 features such as IIS
    7.5, AppLocker, and enhanced command-line and automated management using
    PowerShell Version 2.0.
  • Multiple Service Administrators: Windows Azure now supports multiple
    Windows Live IDs to have administrator privileges on the same Windows Azure
    account. The objective is to make it easy for a team to work on the same Windows
    Azure account while using their individual Windows Live IDs.
  • Better Developer and IT Professional Experience: The following
    enhancements are now available to help developers see and control how their
    applications are running in the cloud:
  • A completely redesigned Silverlight-based Windows Azure
    to ensure an improved and intuitive user experience
  • Access to new diagnostic information including the ability to click
    on a role to see role type, deployment time and last reboot time
  • A new sign-up process that dramatically reduces the number of steps
    needed to sign up for Windows Azure.
  • New scenario based Windows
    Azure Platform forums
    to help answer questions and share knowledge more

The following functionality is now available as beta:

  • Windows
    Azure Virtual Machine Role
    : Support for more types of new and existing
    Windows applications will soon be available with the introduction of the Virtual
    Machine (VM) role. Customers can move more existing applications to Windows
    Azure, reducing the need to make costly code or deployment changes.
  • Extra
    Small Windows Azure Instance
    , which is priced at $0.05 per compute hour,
    provides developers with a cost-effective training and development environment.
    Developers can also use the Extra Small instance to prototype cloud solutions at
    a lower cost.

Developers and IT Professionals can sign up for either of the betas above via
the Windows Azure Management Portal.

  • Windows Azure
    is an online marketplace for you to share, buy and sell
    building block components, premium data sets, training and services needed to
    build Windows Azure platform applications. The first section in the Windows
    Azure Marketplace, DataMarket, became commercially available at PDC 10. Today,
    we're launching a beta of the application section of the Windows Azure
    Marketplace with 40 unique partners and over 50 unique applications and

We are also making the following available as a CTP:

  • Windows
    Azure Connect
    (formerly Project Sydney), which enables a simple and
    easy-to-manage mechanism to set up IP-based network connectivity between
    on-premises and Windows Azure resources, is the first Windows Azure Virtual
    Network feature that we're making available as a CTP. Developers and IT
    Professionals can sign up for this CTP via the Windows Azure Management Portal.

But there is more:

Microsoft provides you different ways to assist you in making cloud
computing and Windows Azure in particular more accessible to you and your

  • Windows Azure Introductory Special : This is a new
    offer specially made for you. Limited of one per customer and includes a base
    amount of the Windows Azure platform services with no monthly commitment.
  • Windows Azure for MSDN Subscribers : This is a
    special offer only available to MSDN subscribers providing a total of 16-month
    free access to the Windows Azure Platform.

Building your first application on the Windows Azure Platform is
easy and can be done using these simple steps

  1. Download the Tools: Get Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio
    to start building and debugging applications for Windows Azure.
  2. Create your first local application: Learn how to create a
    simple ASP.NET application in Visual Studio for Windows Azure.
  3. Deploy your application to the cloud: Learn how to deploy and
    run your sample application in Windows Azure.

If you would like to see an overview of all the new features that we're
making available, please watch an overview webcast . You
can also watch on-demand sessions from PDC10 that dive deeper into many of these
Windows Azure features; check here
for a full list of sessions. A full recap of all that was announced for the
Windows Azure platform at PDC10 can be found here. For
all other questions, please refer to the latest FAQ.