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Many people feel they have to set up a full Azure subscription online to try out and develop on Windows Azure. But you don’t have to do that right away. In fact, you can download the Windows Azure Compute Emulator – a “cloud development environment” – right on your desktop. No, it’s not for production use, and no, you won’t have other people using your system as a cloud provider, and yes, there are some differences with Production Windows Azure, but you’ll be able code, run, test, diagnose, watch, change and configure code without having any connection to the Internet at all. The best thing about this approach is that when you are ready to deploy the code you’ve been testing, a few clicks deploys it to your subscription when you make one.
So what deep-magic does it take to run such a thing right on your laptop or even a Virtual PC? Well, it’s actually not all that difficult. You simply download and install the Windows Azure SDK (you can even get a free version of Visual Studio for it to run on – you’re welcome) from here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsazure/cc974146.aspx
This SDK will also install the Windows Azure Compute Emulator and the Windows Azure Storage Emulator – and then you’re all set. Right-click the icon for Visual Studio and select “Run as Administrator”:
Now open a new “Cloud” type of project:
Add your Web and Worker Roles that you want to code:
And when you’re done with your design, press F5 to start the desktop version of Azure:
Want to learn more about what’s happening underneath? Right-click the tray icon with the Azure logo, and select the two emulators to see what they are doing:
In the configuration files, you’ll see a “Use Development Storage” setting. You can call the BLOB, Table or Queue storage and it will all run on your desktop. When you’re ready to deploy everything to Windows Azure, you simply change the configuration settings and add the storage keys and so on that you need.
Want to learn more about all this?
Overview of the Windows Azure Compute Emulator: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg432968.aspx
Overview of the Windows Azure Storage Emulator: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg432983.aspx
January 2011 Training Kit: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=413E88F8-5966-4A83-B309-53B7B77EDF78&displaylang=en
The comparison to the SQL editions I don't think is accurate because there are very few core db engine differences between Express, Standard, and Enterprise. Most of the differences are in the other components of the product like Analysis Services or in some operational features such as page compression. Currently the SQL Azure engine has many differences (no CLR for example). I hope the SQL Azure team is working towards the goal of having more in common with the other editions.
Well, Express doesn't have AS and page compression either - so the comparison is fair. And - yes, we are working on new features, as I stated.
Thanks for reading - and for posting!