In a blog posted today, the software company’s Corporate Vice President Scott Guthrie listed out all the changes. At the very heart of this announcement was the fact that Microsoft had dropped prices by limiting the billing cycle to actual time used by the developers, and by not charging for halting virtual machines.
Windows Azure is a platform for development and testing of apps. Developers can dev/test in the cloud and then run the production app in the cloud, or dev/test in the cloud and then run the production app using an existing on-premises Windows Server environment.
Here are the new features announced today, in a nutshell:
- No charge for stopped VMs
- Pay by the Minute billing
- MSDN use rights now supported on Windows Azure
- Heavily discounted MSDN Dev/Test Rates
- MSDN monetary credits
- Portal support for better tracking MSDN monetary credit usage
No Charge for Stopped VMs: Before this, when a user stopped a VM on Windows Azure, Microsoft kept a reserved deployment spot for it inside one of its compute clusters, and continued to bill the user for the VM compute unless the latter explicitly deleted the deployment. Henceforth, when users stop a VM, they will not be charged for any compute time while it is stopped.
Pay by the Minute Billing: Prior to the announcement, the pricing model for compute resources on Windows Azure billed at the per-hour granularity. This meant if users ran a VM for 6 minutes in an hour and then turned it off, the company would still charge users for a full hour of usage. No longer. Microsoft will now bill at a per-minute granularity. So if users run a VM (or Cloud Service, or Web Site, or Mobile Service) for only 6 minutes in an hour, they shall be charged for only 6 minutes of compute usage.
MSDN Use Rights now Supported on Windows Azure: Before this, it wasn’t possible to use the dev/test server licenses provided with MSDN subscriptions in a hosted cloud environment. The product usage rights of the MSDN server licenses didn’t allow them to be used in either our cloud nor anyone else's cloud environment. From today though, the company is changing the MSDN use-rights so that users can now use their MSDN dev/test software licenses on Windows Azure. This allows them to install and use MSDN dev/test server images for SQL Server, SharePoint, BizTalk, etc at no extra charge within Windows Azure VMs.
The new changes are bound to further shore up revenue from the sale of Windows Azure. ToolsJournal had reported in April that Microsoft had declared that revenue from the sale of its Azure program had taken it past the US $1 billion mark in revenue.
[Image Credits: Scott Gu’s Blog]