*UPDATE: We are happy to announce that the Windows Azure SDK refresh is now available. Please read this post for more information about the Windows Azure SDK refresh. We found an issue during final testing of the Windows Azure SDK refresh.  We hope to have this resolved and the SDK refresh available by early next week.  We apologize for this delay and appreciate your patience.  We will update this post when the refresh is ready.  To get the latest Windows Azure news and updates, follow @WindowsAzure on Twitter.

We announced several updates to the Windows Azure platform today at MIX11 in Las Vegas.  These new capabilities will help developers deploy applications faster, accelerate their application performance and enable access to applications through popular identity providers including Microsoft, Facebook and Google.  Details follow.

New Services and Functionality

A myriad of new Windows Azure services and functionality were unveiled today.   These include:

  • An update to the Windows Azure SDK that includes a Web Deployment Tool to aid in testing web applications on a single Windows Azure instance.  See the blog post, "Now Available:  Windows Azure SDK 1.4 Refresh with Web Deploy Integration", for more information. The SDK refresh should be available later today.*
  • Updates to the Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control service, which provides a single-sign-on experience to Windows Azure applications by integrating with enterprise directories and Web identities.
  • Release of the Windows Azure AppFabric Caching service in the next 30 days, which will accelerate the performance of Windows Azure and SQL Azure applications.
  • A community technology preview (CTP) of Windows Azure Traffic Manager, a new service that allows Windows Azure customers to more easily balance application performance across multiple geographies.
  • A preview of the Windows Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Internet Information Services (IIS) Smooth Streaming capabilities, which allows developers to upload IIS Smooth Streaming-encoded video to a Windows Azure Storage account and deliver that video to Silverlight, iOS and Android Honeycomb clients.

Windows Azure Platform Offer Changes

We also announced several offer changes today, including:

  • The extension of the expiration date and increases to the amount of free storage, storage transactions and data transfers in the Windows Azure Introductory Special offer. This promotional offer now includes 750 hours of extra-small instances and 25 hours of small instances of the Windows Azure service, 20GB of storage, 50K of storage transactions, and 40GB of data transfers provided each month at no charge until September 30, 2011. More information can be found here.
    • An existing customer who signed up for the original Windows Azure Introductory Special offer will get a free upgrade as of today. An existing customer who signed up for a different offer (other than the Windows Azure Introductory Special) would need to sign up for the updated Windows Azure Introductory Special Offer separately.
  • MSDN Ultimate and Premium subscribers will benefit from increased compute, storage and bandwidth benefits for Windows Azure. More information can be found here.
  • The Cloud Essentials Pack for Microsoft partners now includes 750 hours of extra-small instances and 25 hours of small instances of the Windows Azure service, 20GB of storage and 50GB of data transfers provided each month at no charge. In addition, the Cloud Essentials Pack also contains other Microsoft cloud services including SQL Azure, Windows Azure AppFabric, Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. More information can be found here.

Please read the press release or visit the MIX11 Virtual Press Room to learn more about today's announcements at MIX11. For more information about the Windows Azure AppFabric announcements, read the blog post, "Announcing the Commercial Release of Windows Azure AppFabric Caching and Access Control" on the Windows Azure AppFabric blog.

Follow @MIXEvent or search #MIX11 on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates throughout the event.