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You can learn the Windows Azure Platform and develop against it locally on your own machine using only the SDK and a copy of Visual Studio (details here) – but at some point you will want to deploy your application to the cloud and understand how it is managed etc. At which point this offer may be just what you need.

Windows Azure Platform introductory special offer:

This allows anyone to try the Windows Azure Platform at “no charge”. The offer will end on July 31st 2010.

Included each month at no charge:

  • Windows Azure
    • 25 hours of a small compute instance
    • 500 MB of storage
    • 10,000 storage transactions
  • SQL Azure
    • 1 Web Edition database (available for first 3 months only)
  • AppFabric
    • 100,000 Access Control transactions
    • 2 Service Bus connections
  • Data Transfers (per region)
    • 500 MB in
    • 500 MB out

It takes a fair few steps to take advantage of the offer (too many IMHO) – but it is pretty painless. Forewarned is forearmed (that apparently is a 16th century saying ), so here goes:

Before you start:

  • Have a Windows Live ID ready.
  • Have a credit card ready. It is “no charge” – but you will need a credit card.
  • Set aside 20 minutes to get this done. There are a lot of simple steps.
  • If you have a MSDN Subscription then check out my next post on the MSDN Subscriber offer before deciding which is right for you right now.

Ok, here we go:

Start at  (or


Click on Buy to take you to Microsoft Online Services:


Select United Kingdom and click on Continue. This will give you a summary of services. Note Windows Azure Platform “lurking” at the bottom of the screen:



Click on View service details  to get a list of options:


Click on Rate Plan next to Windows Azure Platform Introductory Special to check what is included and what you will pay if you go over:


Close the rate plan window and this time click on Buy Now and sign in using your Windows Live ID (Yep – you need one).

If this is the first time you have used Microsoft Online Services then you will need to set up your profile which takes 4 steps. Picture of step 1:


Once that is complete, the offer will now be in your cart:


Next click on Checkout to go through a 5 step process to set up your credit card, agree to the terms of services. Pictures of steps 3 and 5:



And then give your service a name which will appear in the portal as your project name:


Optionally, select to Opt out of auto renew if you are keen (as I am in this case) to avoid charges appearing on your credit card when you go over the free allowance. At least I hoped that is what I am doing here. I need to double check that.

[UPDATE: Opt Out will NOT stop you being charges if you go over the free limits!]

Note I have both the Introductory Special and the MSDN Premium offer against my live ID.






Finally check that the new service is available on the Windows Azure portal (use the same Windows Live ID). This happened in minutes for me.

Note that the Service you bought is actually a Project in “Azure speak”.


Click on your project name to select it, in my case Free Azure. You can now create your service into which you can deploy your application:


Hopefully that should give you a sense of what is involved to take advantage of this offer – and make it a little bit less likely that you get “lost” on route.

Related Links:

Posted on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 3:39 PM UK , Cloud Computing | Back to top

Comments on this post: Step by Step sign up for the 25 hour free Windows Azure Platform Introductory Special

# re: Step by Step sign up for the 25 hour free Windows Azure Platform Introductory Special
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Hi Eric,

How or where do I "Opt out of auto renew" - or is the fact that I have a partner offer negate that ability?


Left by Ben Duguid on Jan 13, 2010 4:06 PM

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