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 Benefits for MSDN Subscribers
If you are an MSDN Subscriber then you have free hours/storage etc for Azure – once you activate your benefit. MSDN Subscribers can activate the Azure benefit at any time. However:
Don’t rush to activate your Azure benefit it if you don’t plan to start using Azure just yet!
Why? Because there is a rather good time limited offer that starts ticking away the moment you activate the benefit.
The level of benefit you get is dependent upon the level of MSDN subscription. Professional = 50 hours, Premium = 100 hours etc. However there is an introductory offer which for the first 8 months gives all subscribers a massive (it is all relative!) 750 hours per month. 750 hours = one node permanently on throughout a month (or two nodes for two weeks etc). You want to make the most of those 8 months!
At some point the 8 month offer may go away – hence I recommend you track the MSDN Azure Benefits Overview page if you plan to hold off on the following until you are really ready to start using Azure.
Before you start:
- You need to be a MSDN Subscriber!
- Have a Windows Live ID ready.
- Have a credit card ready. It is “no charge” if you stay within the limits– but you will need a credit card.
- Set aside 20 minutes to get this done. There are a lot of simple steps.
- Also check out this “no charge” offer to understand your options.
Ok, here we go:
Start at the MSDN Azure Benefits Overview page (or http://bit.ly/activatemsdnazure)
Click on Sign up now and use your Windows Live ID to see your MSDN Subscription:
Click on Windows Azure Platform and you will taken over to Microsoft Online Services.
Click on Rate Plan to understand exactly what you get and how you will be charged if you use more resources than come with the benefit:
Close the rate plan window and click on Checkout. This will take you through a 5 step process to set up your credit card, agree to the terms of services etc. Pictures of steps 1, 3 and 5:
And then give your service a name which will appear in the http://windows.azure.com portal as your project name (In my case I went for MSDN Azure for email@example.com):
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 of hours/storage etc. At least I hope that is what I am doing here. I need to double check that.
Note I have both the Introductory Special and this MSDN Subscriber offer against my live ID.
Finally check that the new service is available on the Windows Azure portal http://windows.azure.com (use the same Windows Live ID). This happened in minutes for me BUT it triggered a bug in the provisioning software because I have some very old projects in Azure. Hence it is marked as Read Only in this picture. Hopefully you will not see Read Only and the good news is the team are working on a fix right now.
Note that the Service on Microsoft Online Services is actually a Project in “Azure speak”.
Click on your project name to select it, in my case MSDN Azure for firstname.lastname@example.org. You can now create your azure service into which you can then 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.