Microsoft has just announced Windows Azure at PDC 2008 and has opened a community technology preview for all of us eager developers around the world who just can’t wait to get our hands on the platform and writing some code.

As with every new technology we need to have a number of pre-requisites installed on your dev machine to get Windows Azure up and running, in this a first of many more blogs to come on Azure and the cloud platform, we will quickly run through installing and getting started with Azure and the CTP that has just been released.

This Azure SDK will be one of the first things that you will want to install, but first make sure your development fabric is set up and ready to use.

 

.NET Framework

Getting our cloud projects up and running will first require we will first need to make sure that we have the latest version of the .NET Framework (.NET 3.5 SP1).

 

IIS 7.0

From here IIS will need to be installed and configured to allow Azure to be developed and tested under the development fabric, meaning that it is ran locally on your dev machine and not in the could until you publish it there. Setting up the development fabric can be done using the following steps:

·         Open up Control Panel | Add or Remove Programs | Turn On Windows Features On or Off

·         In the new dialog box expand Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 and select “Windows Communications Foundation HTTP Activation”

·          Under Internet Information Services, expand World Wide Web Services.

·         Under Application Development Features, select ASP.NET.

·         Under Common HTTP Features, choose Static Content.

 SQL Server

You will also need to have a version of SQL server 2008 or 2005 installed on your machine, I have currently only tried to run Azure apps using the Express edition, but don’t see any reason the full would not run just as well. If you do not currently have a copy you can get a free trial version from here.

 

Installing Windows Azure SDK

Now that your dev box is set up you can download and install the SDK, if your machine is not set up properly the installer will stop installation and pop up a message warning you of this. Should this happen follow back through the above steps.

Download the Azure SDK from here.

 

Azure Visual Studio Tools

Now that you have the SDK you will also want to download the Visual Studio Tools to allow the easy creation of cloud applications.

The Visual Studio Tools (CTP) can be found here.

 

Viewing the Demos

Now you can create and test out your own Azure based programs, for some inspiration on what you can do and how easy it is to create Azure apps take a look at the sample that were installed with the SDK under the default file location:

C:\Program Files\Windows Azure SDK\v1.0

Then unzip the samples.zip folder and take a look at a number of examples displaying how to create both Worker Roles (background processing) and Web Roles (takes HTTP input).

When you click on one of the Azure project solution files you will be prompted to restart under elevated p
rivileges, this should be done to allow Azure and the developer fabric to run correctly. On creating new Cloud projects within VS2008 you will also have to right click Visual Studio and select "Run as Administrator".

 

Architecture Information

For more information on the architecture of Azure check out this awesome Channel 9 video.