This question keeps coming up. Hence I will have a stab at explaining it.
Nothing deployed = no charge
First I think we can all happily agree that the following service on Windows Azure won’t be costing me anything 🙂
Deployed and running and being used = charge
If we have code deployed and being used then you will be charged. Seems reasonable. Note that Staging and Production cost the same.
Deployed and running but no one is using it = charge
You will be charged even if no one is using your service. Presumably because they have something better to do 🙂
Deployed but Stopped/Suspended = ?
In this case I have suspended Production and Staging. Staging is Stopped and Production is Stopping.
Will you be charged? The answer is Yes. This will be charged exactly the same as Deployed and running.
It is not sufficient to suspend a service – you need to actually delete it to avoid being charged.
I hope that helps. I am definitely keen to hear your feedback on any of the above.