Try out Windows Azure while you still can

A Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Microsoft’s Windows Azure Platform has been around for a year now since it was shown at PDC 2008. Since then there have been a few updates, but the platform is still in the CTP phase.

But this will change soon: Microsoft announced that the CTP will be available until December 31, 2009. Beginning January, 2010, new customers will have to sign up for an offer to access services on the Windows Azure platform. Usage during the month of January will be at no charge, so you can see your exact usage while still enjoying free service. On February 1, 2010, they will begin charging customers for using the Windows Azure platform. Official prices can be found here.

And we’ve got two large upcoming events on which new features will be shown and made available:

So it’s certainly worth to pick up your notes on cloud computing again or join in if you didn’t try the CTP out before.

How to get started

You can start reading up on Windows Azure on the official site and watch some video’s from Channel9, PDC08 or other events. But at some point you want to get your hands dirty. Currently we’re still using the July 2009 CTP release.


Download and install the Windows Azure Visual Studio Tools and the Windows Azure SDK. This can be done in two different ways:

  • Download from You might have to tweak IIS7 by hand if you choose for this installation.
  • Easier is the installation with the Microsoft Web Platform Installer by clicking on this link. A detailed step by step guide explaining what actually happens is also available (written by Jim Nakashima).

For the .NET Services you have a separate SDK (a fresh new November 2009 CTP release). There’s no installation required for SQL Azure.

Deploy your solutions

Create a new Windows Azure account with the invitation code you receive after completing the registration process. Currently there is a waiting list of about a week. Once you have the code you’re able to deploy and manage your application on

You’ll need another activation code to create a SQL Azure account by completing this registration process with your Windows Live ID. It took about 2 days to retrieve this code in my mailbox. Once you got your code you can activate your account on where you can create and manage your SQL Azure Server and databases.

Finally you can just log into the .NET Services Developer Portal using your Windows Live ID to create your .NET Services account.

Windows Azure Platform Training Kit.

Finally, if you don’t have SQL Server Express installed and want to use another version of SQL Server, you’ll have to tweak 2 configuration files. These files reside in the bin directory of the SDK (by default C:\Program Files\Windows Azure SDK\v1.0\bin).

The first one is DevtableGen.exe.config (line 4):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
    <add key="DefaultSQLInstance" value="."/>

The second one is DevelopmentStorage.exe.config (line 9 and line 25):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
    <section name="developmentStorageConfig"
type="Microsoft.ServiceHosting.DevelopmentStorage.Utilities.DevelopmentStorageConfigurationHandler, DevelopmentStorage.Utilities" />

    <add name="DevelopmentStorageDbConnectionString"
         connectionString="Data Source=.;Initial Catalog=DevelopmentStorageDb;Integrated Security=True"
         providerName="System.Data.SqlClient" />

    <add key="ClientSettingsProvider.ServiceUri" value="" />

      <service name="Blob"
      <service name="Queue"
      <service name="Table"


Happy cloud computing!

Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0; code samples licensed under MIT.
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