Hopefully, by now everyone is aware that you can try out Mobile Services in Windows Azure free for one month. Past the first month, you can keep your mobile service in free mode (with a free 20MB database for 12 months) while you develop and test your app. With all of this free trial goodness, some folks have been nonplused to find that the Windows Store and Windows Phone quickstart tutorials for the new .NET backend require Visual Studio 2013 Professional (a non-free edition).
This requirement is really due to the way that the quickstart download is packaged for Windows Store and Windows Phone apps. For convenience on these .NET platforms, the client and service projects are both included in the same solution. This creates a problem for Express editions because you cannot open such a solution in these free editions of Visual Studio--hence the "requirement" to use Professional.
Here are some options for trying out the Mobile Services .NET backend tutorials without having to buy Visual Studio Professional 2013:
- First, I should point out that there is a free 90-day trial version of Visual Studio 2013 Professional (and students can get it for free anyway).
- Download the quickstart solution, but open each project (client and service) separately in Visual Studio Express for Windows Store/Windows Phone and Visual Studio Express for Web, respectively.
- Follow the Get started with data tutorials (Windows Store/Windows Phone). These tutorials create the same .NET backend service and app, but can easily be completed with the mobile service in Visual Studio Express 2013 Web and the client app in the appropriate version of Visual Studio Express.
Hope that helps,