At PDC10, we introduced our plan to improve the experience for Java developers with Windows Azure. Today, we’re excited to release a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of the Windows Azure Starter Kit for Java, which enables Java developers to simply configure, package and deploy their web applications to Windows Azure. The goal for this CTP is to get feedback from Java developers, and to nail down the correct experience for Java developers, particularly to make sure that configuring, packaging and deploying to Windows Azure integrates well with common practices.

What’s the Windows Azure Starter Kit for Java?

This Starter Kit was designed to work as a simple command line build tool or in the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE). It uses Apache Ant as part of the build process, and includes an Ant extension that’s capable of understanding Window Azure configuration options.

The Windows Azure Starter Kit for Java is an open source project released under the Apache 2.0 license, and it is available for download at: http://wastarterkit4java.codeplex.com/

What’s next?

Microsoft announced an Introductory Special offer that includes 750 hours per month (which is one server 24x7) of the Windows Azure extra-small instance, plus one small SQL Azure database and other platform capabilities - all free until June 30, 2011. This is a great opportunity for all developers to see what the cloud can do - without any up-front investment!

You can also expect continued updates to the development tools and SDK, but the experience of Java developers is critical. Now is the perfect time to provide your feedback, so join us on the forum at: http://wastarterkit4java.codeplex.com/