A year-long independent test of cloud service providers was recently wrapped up by Compuware. Among the providers tested were the three big dogs: Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. And although the Azure cloud platform is still fairly young, it fared quite well against the competition.

In fact, it proved to be the fastest service over the past twelve months.Compuware’s CloudSleuth monitors dozens of providers around the globe, checking load times for a simple two-page fictitious retail website. Azure’s average response time was 6.07ms, besting second-place Google App Engine by nearly half a second. That might not seem like much, but when you’re talking about millions of page loads per day those additional milliseconds add up.

Amazon’s EC2 service lagged well behind both Azure and App Engine, at 7.20 for its East Coast location and 8.11 seconds out West.

While the results of Compuware’s testing appear on the surface to be of very little interest to people outside the IT community, the fact that Azure performed so well is going to make a difference to users at home once Windows 8 lands on retail shelves.

Azure powers a number of Microsoft services, and it’s directly tied to Windows Live. Windows 8 will offer plenty of cloud-powered features, from profile synchronization to providing desktop access to the dozens of online accounts you’ve tied to your Windows Live ID (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Flickr).

Better Azure performance will translate into a better Windows 8 experience when its cloud muscle is required, so let’s hope Microsoft is up to the task. sure’s certainly off to a roaring start, but Microsoft has had its share of problems dealing with increased server demand in the past.

And let’s not forget about that streaming OS patent Microsoft was granted…Azure just might be handling boot-up duties for Windows 9 or 10.

Full article is available here.