It used to be so simple years ago. If you were a Microsoft 'shop' then you used MSMQ and, if not, you ran IBM's MQSeries. Now everyone and their dog seems to have a messaging product, especially out in the "Cloud". Who would have thought Amazon - purveyor of books and CDs to the world - would be involved in selling web services such as Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS)?

Microsoft's move into this sector is with Windows Azure Queues, part of the Windows Azure Services Platform.

There's a white paper to introduce you to the concepts involved:

Windows Azure Queue - Programming Queue Storage
Windows Azure Storage provides durable, scalable, available, secure, and performance-efficient storage services for the cloud, and it does this through familiar and easy-to-use programming interfaces. Windows Azure Queue provides reliable storage and delivery of messages for an application. This paper describes the Windows Azure Queue programming interface and the advanced queue concepts.

I've had a browse through the paper and I think developing for Azure Queues should not be a challenge to anyone with experience of MSMQ. I'll see if I can put some comparisons together between MSMQ and Azure Queues although you may have to wait instead for the official whitepapers from the MSMQ product group.

Anyone interested in trying out the Azure services will need to register and then be prepared to wait:

"NOTE: Due to high demand and the early Community Technology Preview (CTP) state of these services, you may be temporarily placed on a waiting list."

Failing that, you can get a flavour of Windows Azure with the "How Do I?" webcasts available, such as:

which has various video, audio and code downloads in addition to the Silverlight screencast that you can watch in situ.