You can learn the Windows Azure Platform and develop against it locally on your own machine using only the SDK and a copy of Visual Studio (details here) – but at some point you will want to deploy your application to the cloud and understand how it is managed etc. At which point this offer may be just what you need.
Windows Azure Platform introductory special offer:
This allows anyone to try the Windows Azure Platform at “no charge”. The offer will end on July 31st 2010.
Included each month at no charge:
It takes a fair few steps to take advantage of the offer (too many IMHO) – but it is pretty painless. Forewarned is forearmed (that apparently is a 16th century saying ), so here goes:
Before you start:
Ok, here we go:
Start at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/offers/ (or http://bit.ly/buyazure)
Click on Buy to take you to Microsoft Online Services:
Select United Kingdom and click on Continue. This will give you a summary of services. Note Windows Azure Platform “lurking” at the bottom of the screen:
Click on View service details to get a list of options:
Click on Rate Plan next to Windows Azure Platform Introductory Special to check what is included and what you will pay if you go over:
Close the rate plan window and this time click on Buy Now and sign in using your Windows Live ID (Yep – you need one).
If this is the first time you have used Microsoft Online Services then you will need to set up your profile which takes 4 steps. Picture of step 1:
Once that is complete, the offer will now be in your cart:
Next click on Checkout to go through a 5 step process to set up your credit card, agree to the terms of services. Pictures of steps 3 and 5:
And then give your service a name which will appear in the http://windows.azure.com portal as your project name:
Optionally, select to Opt out of auto renew if you are keen (as I am in this case) to avoid charges appearing on your credit card when you go over the free allowance. At least I hoped that is what I am doing here. I need to double check that.
Note I have both the Introductory Special and the MSDN Premium offer against my live ID.
Finally check that the new service is available on the Windows Azure portal http://windows.azure.com (use the same Windows Live ID). This happened in minutes for me.
Note that the Service you bought is actually a Project in “Azure speak”.
Click on your project name to select it, in my case Free Azure. You can now create your service into which you can deploy your application:
Hopefully that should give you a sense of what is involved to take advantage of this offer – and make it a little bit less likely that you get “lost” on route.