NOTE:  This post was updated Wednesday, September 21, 2011 to include updated information about the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8.

NOTE: This post was updated Friday, September 16, 2011 to include links to related blog posts about each of the announcements made at BUILD.

Today from the BUILD Conference in Anaheim, California, Server and Tools President, Satya Nadella outlined a changing world of application development, connected devices, and continuous services, and articulated how Microsoft’s investments in these areas will enable developers to create a wealth of new opportunities by leading this transformation. Nadella went on to highlight the opportunity for developers to build the next generation of applications by architecting new types of front-end client applications that are connected to back-end clouds using the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8, which was released today at BUILD.

Details on the toolkit as well as other Windows Azure-related announcements Nadella made can be found below. Additional details on today’s announcements will be posted throughout the week, so check back often!

Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the Windows Azure Toolkits for Devices, consisting of assets for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android. Using the toolkits, developers can use Windows Azure to accelerate the creation of applications on the major mobile platforms. Today, we are extending our toolkit offering so developers can take advantage of our scalable cloud platform to power Metro style applications on Windows 8. The Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8 is designed to make it easier for developers to create Windows Metro Style applications that harness the power of Windows Azure Compute, Storage and the Windows Push Notification Service (WNS).

The toolkit provides developers with the following:

  • Dependency Checker - Provides a streamlined means to get all the pre-requisite tools configured to start developing with Windows Azure on Windows 8
  • The Windows Push Notification Service Recipe - This will simplify your development effort significantly.  This recipe provides a simple managed API for authenticating against WNS, constructing payloads and posting the notification to WNS.  In three lines of code you can harness the power of Toast, Tile and Badge notifications in Windows 8.
  • Dev 11 Windows Metro Style App - A sample application that demonstrates how to request a notification channel from WNS and register this channel with your Windows Azure service.
  • VS 2010 Windows Azure Cloud Project Template:
    • A sample WCF REST service for your client apps to register their channel with
    • An ASP.NET MVC 3 portal to build and send Toast, Tile and Badge notifications to clients using the Windows Push Notification Service Recipe.
    • An example of how to utilize Blob Storage for Tile and Toast notification images.
  • Sample applications are included in the toolkit to demonstrate application scenarios using the Access Control Service, Worker Roles, Queues and the Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket.

Get an accelerated jump start delivering notifications to your Windows Azure Metro Style applications today using the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8.  For more technical details on the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8, please read the post, "ANNOUNCING the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows 8" by Nick Harris.

Windows Azure SDK 1.5

Windows Azure SDK 1.5 is now available.  This new version offers a number of updates:

  • Re-architected emulator, which enables higher fidelity between local and cloud developments.
  • Support for uploading service certificates in csupload.exe.
  • A new csencrypt.exe tool to manage remote desktop encryption passwords.
  • Enhancements in the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio for developing and deploying cloud applications.
  • The ability to create ASP.NET MVC3 Web Roles and manage multiple service configurations in one cloud project.
  • Improved validation of Windows Azure packages to catch common errors like missing .NET assemblies and invalid connection strings.

For more information about the Windows Azure SDK 1.5, please read the post, "Announcing the Windows Azure SDK 1.5, Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and New Service Management Features".

Windows Azure Marketplace

  • The Windows Azure Marketplace will be available in 25 new markets internationally starting next month.  Markets include: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore.  Partners can submit their applications and datasets to publish on the marketplace now. (Learn how to get started here.)
  • Microsoft Translator APIs are now available through the Windows Azure Marketplace, along with a fast-growing collection of data sets and applications. These APIs allow developers and webmasters to provide translation and language services in more than 35 languages, as part of their applications, websites or services. Starting today, Microsoft is offering customers a three-month promotional period, during which the higher throughput versions of the APIs will be available free of charge.

For more information about these Windows Azure Marketplace-related announcements, please read the post, "Windows Azure Marketplace News from BUILD:  Announcing NEW Data Offerings and International Availability".

Windows Azure Storage

New Windows Azure Storage features include geo-replication to help with disaster recovery and a new version of the REST API to enable some functionality improvements for Windows Azure Blobs, Tables, and Queues.  Geo-replication replicates your Windows Azure Blob and Table data between two locations that are hundreds of miles apart and within the same region. Geo-replication is now turned on for all Windows Azure Storage accounts for Blobs and Tables.  There is no change in existing performance, as updates are asynchronously geo-replicated.  

For more information about the new Windows Azure Storage features, please read the post, "Now Available:  Geo-Replication and New Blob, Table and Queue Features for Windows Azure Storage".

Service Bus September Release

This new release introduces enhancements to the Service Bus that improve pub/sub messaging by introducing features such as Queues, Topics and Subscriptions, and Rules. It also enables new scenarios on the Windows Azure platform, such as:

  • Asynchronous Cloud Eventing – Distribute event notifications to occasionally connected clients (for example, phones, remote workers, kiosks, and so on)
  • Event-driven Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) – Building loosely coupled systems that can easily evolve over time
  • Advanced Intra-App Messaging – Load leveling and load balancing for building highly scalable and resilient applications

For more information about the Service Bus September release, please read the post, "Now Available:  The Service Bus September 2011 Release".

Windows Azure Service Management API

Key improvements to the Windows Azure Service Management API include the ability to rollback in-progress configuration updates and service upgrades, and the ability to invoke multiple “write” operations on an ongoing deployment.  Other enhancements include more descriptive status for role instances and a new API method: Get Subscription.

For more information about the Windows Azure SDK 1.5, please read the post, "Announcing the Windows Azure SDK 1.5, Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and New Service Management Features".

For more information about the announcements made today or to watch the keynotes, please visit the BUILD Virtual Press Room.  And follow @WindowsAzure and @STBNewsBytes for the latest news and real-time talk about BUILD.