The Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 makes it quick and easy for developers to create Windows Metro Style applications that can harness the power of Windows Azure.  A refresh of this toolkit (to work with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview) has recently been announced by Microsoft. Nick Harris and Wade Wegner also recorded a video demonstration here

As we enter an era of unparalleled change and opportunity in IT, toolkits like this one become an increasingly valuable resource for developers.  The PC, the phone and an expanding number of smart devices have created diverse computing scenarios for millions of users and an unparalleled opportunity for developers.  As the number of devices proliferates, we are also seeing increasing complexity of the applications created and consumed. As a result, these devices and applications are often combined with back-end cloud services in order to create more compelling user experiences.

The Windows Azure Platform provides a true cloud platform for the development of such services. While not yet commercially available in South Africa, we are preparing for availability later this year. A number of South African Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors are busy creating applications and services which will be ready for the launch in SA – toolkits like these are making this a lot easier. If you are planning to develop on the Windows Azure Platform and/or try this Toolkit, we have a limited number of Azure trial accounts available – please see details below.

Windows 8 is, of course, one of the most anticipated device experiences for a broad audience of consumers and developers - recently reaching the Windows 8 Consumer Preview milestone.  Many developers and enthusiasts in South Africa are downloading the preview and developers are eagerly building/testing new Metro Style apps experiences and sketching out how unique Windows 8 Metro Style apps can add to their portfolios. 

The new version of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 helps Azure applications reach Windows 8 and helps Windows developers leverage the power of Azure.  In just minutes, developers can download working code samples that use Windows Azure and the Windows Push Notification Service to send Toast, Tile and Badge notifications to a Windows 8 Metro Style application.

The core features of the toolkit include:

Automated Install that scripts all dependencies.

Project Templates, such as Windows 8 Metro Style app project templates, in both XAML/C# and HTML5/JavaScript with a supporting C# Windows Azure Project for Visual Studio 2010.

NuGet Packages for Push Notifications and the Sample ACS scenarios.  You can find the packages here and full source in the toolkit under /Libraries.

Five App Samples that demonstrate ways Windows 8 Metro Style apps can use Azure-based ACS and Push Notifications

Documentation – Extensive documentation including install, file new project walkthrough, samples and deployment to Windows Azure.

Azure Trial Access: We are providing 15 x 30-Day Azure Trial accounts for South African readers of this blog. To get one please mail us at: msdevsa@live.com