Today we’re very excited to announce the Preview Release of Windows Azure Mobile Services!  Mobile Services allow you to connect your Windows 8 apps to a cloud backend hosted in Windows Azure and easily store structured data, authenticate users, and send push notifications.  More importantly, Mobile Services enables you to accomplish these tasks within minutes.

Mobile Services is the perfect partner for modern mobile apps because it reduces the friction associated with repeated common tasks as well as accelerates development and deployment.  We’ll provide the backend you need so that you can deliver the experience your customers want.  The ease and speed of developing with Mobile Services makes it ideal for when you want to get the next great idea to market as soon as possible.

Today, Mobile Services are available for Windows 8 apps, but subsequent preview releases will extend support to iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

To start using Mobile Services, you will need to sign up for the Windows Azure free trial, if you have not done so already.  If you already have a Windows Azure account, you will need to request to enroll in this preview feature. During preview, Mobile Services are free for your first ten Windows 8 applications running on shared instances. 

Creating a Mobile Service is Easy 

After you have either activated your Windows Azure free trial or enrolled in the Mobile Services preview, click the +NEW button at the bottom of the navigation pane.

Select ‘Mobile Service’ and then ‘Create.’

You will then be asked to either create a new SQL database or select an existing one.  During the initial preview period, Mobile Services projects can only be deployed to the US-East datacenter.  For this reason, international developers should expect additional latency.

In order to manage cost and latency, make sure that new SQL databases deploy to US-East and that existing ones are moved to that datacenter.  Instructions on how to move a SQL database to a new datacenter can be found here and here.

To develop Windows 8 apps with Windows Azure Mobile Services, you will need to download Visual Studio 2012 Express and the Mobile Services Managed SDK.  Then, it’s as simple as following the Quick Start guide.

Additional Resources

There are several resources available if you would like to learn more before you get started building your own Windows 8 apps. Scott Guthrie’s blog post  shows how easy it is to get a ‘To Do’ app up and running using Mobile Services. Also, check out this video where Scott provides an introduction of Mobile Services. The developer center contains resources to teach you how to:

  • Validate and authorize access to data using easy scripts that execute securely, on the server
  • Easily authenticate your users via Windows Live
  • Send toast notifications and update live tiles in just a few lines of code

Questions? Ask in the Windows Azure Forums. Feedback? Send it to mobileservices@microsoft.com.