MSDN subscribers can get started developing on the Windows Azure platform today. Starting January 4, 2010, subscribers in many countries will benefit from compute hours, storage, data transfers, SQL Azure databases and Windows Azure platform AppFabric messages included at no extra charge as part of their subscription. The Windows Azure platform offers a simple, comprehensive, and powerful platform for the creation of web applications and services.
What is the Windows Azure platform?
The Windows Azure Platform is an internet-scale cloud computing and services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers. The Windows Azure platform provides a range of functionality to build applications that span from consumer web to enterprise scenarios and includes a cloud operating system and a set of developer services. Fully interoperable through the support of industry standards and web protocols such as REST and SOAP, you can use the Windows Azure platform services individually or together, either to build new applications or to extend existing ones. Windows Azure, Microsoft SQL Azure and Windows Azure platform AppFabric are the key components of the Windows Azure platform.
Why is this important for me?
Technical innovations in the cloud dramatically change the economics of computing and reduce the barriers keeping you from meeting the increasing demands of today's customers. The cloud promises choice, and enables scenarios that previously were not economically practical. The cloud reduces complexity by simplifying application infrastructure, thus letting you focus even more time on your organization's key differentiators (i.e. applications, user experience, etc.).
The Windows Azure platform is built to help you create, deploy, and distribute Web services and applications on the Internet. You can create applications that run in a browser or build and publish your own set of services by harnessing the flexibility of SOAP, REST, and XML; use your current skill set on a range of Microsoft and non-Microsoft tools on a standards-based platform; create and share results quickly; and extend solutions to millions of Windows Live customers.
For in depth information on the Windows Azure Platform, go to the Azure Developer Center on MSDN.