It is clear that Microsoft wants Windows to be as ubiquitous in the cloud as it currently is in the desktop and notebook PC market. And while Microsoft is also considered to be one of the latecomers to the entire 'software-as-a-service' ecosystem, it would seem that this minor setback is not about to hinder the software giant in its plans for (virtual) world domination: Microsoft has announced the commencement of a free trial in a bid to attract more users to its Azure Services Platform.
Cloud computing and 'software-as-a-service' might be mere blanket terms used to describe the future of computing, but as far as Microsoft is concerned, it would seem that the such services are more than ready to be implemented in today's computing ecosystem. After all, enterprises have been known to be relatively slow on the uptake of new technology, and in most cases, all it needs is just a simple push to get the entire industry moving in the 'right' (or wrong) directions.
With that in mind, what would Microsoft's plan for pushing people onto the path of cloud computing under the Windows banner and ecosystem be? Simple: to offer a free trial of its Windows Azure Platform, in the hopes that enterprise developers will be able to get their feet wet with Microsoft's cloud computing solution and join the Microsoft ecosystem.
For those who might not be aware, Microsoft's Azure Services Platform is a 'platform-as-a-service' offering and forms a core part of Microsoft's cloud computing strategy. It allows customers to deploy applications and data into the cloud, and is designed to compliment the company's other 'software-as-a-service' offering, Microsoft Online Services.
So what's in the free trial of Microsoft's Windows Azure Platform for developers who bite? Well, according to Microsoft, interested developers can choose between one of two offers, namely 750 hours of an Extra Small Compute Instance or 25 hours of a Small Compute Instance. And in addition to the free computing time offered, Microsoft is also throwing in a few extra features such as free inbound and outbound data transfer of up to 500MB and 100,000 AppFabric access control transactions across two service bus connections, as shown in the screenshot below:
Of course, this complimentary trial is not without its own set of caveats though. Developers and system administrators might want to take note that Microsoft does not impose hard data transfer or storage caps: this means that system administrators who end up consuming more than the amount of data allocated to them will be charged at Microsoft's current rates. Last but definitely not least, Microsoft has also confirmed that the trial is time-bombed to expire on 30 June this year, and that any subsequent usage of its Windows Azure Platform after the aforementioned date will be charged at the standard rates as well.
If that sounds reasonable enough to warrant getting your hands and feet wet with what Microsoft has to offer the cloud computing ecosystem, hit up the registration link located here.
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