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Long-awaited pricing details of Windows Azure expected soon

Business details on Azure said to be coming at the Worldwide Partner Conference next month

Microsoft vice president Allison Watson is promising that long-awaited details on Windows Azure will be announced at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference next month, reports CNet.

The conference will take place July 13-16 in New Orleans. Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform, has created a lot of hype but Microsoft has yet to explain how it plans to price Azure. Microsoft has merely said that it will be offered at competitive rates and, like most cloud computing services, fees will be based on usage. No doubt, partners are also wanting to hear how they can earn a buck from Azure. Azure is expected to be generally available sometime in 2009. Many services (such as .Net Services), are available now in test, or beta, mode.

It is hard to guess how Microsoft's pricing scheme will work. Will it be fearful of cannibalizing its Windows Server 2008 business and therefore burden Azure with expensive pricing? (This is the tactic the company takes with its desktop virtualization wares, priced high enough to keep fat-client desktops comparatively affordable). Or will it perform its oft-used later-to-market trick and undercut the pricing of competitors such as Amazon and Google? (This is the tactic it used with its sales force automation suite, Dynamics CRM.)

At this point, we'd wager on the latter outcome -- favorable prices that undercut the competition and give Microsoft a shot at early market dominance. We're basing this guess on two items: In April, Microsoft's server and tools division president Bob Muglia, promised its partners that it would reduce license fees for partners wanting to offer cloud offerings based on Windows Server 2008. In March, Microsoft was also none-too-pleased when its cloud computing competitors linked arms and proclaimed an "open cloud manifesto" without extending an invitation to include Azure.

Enterprises are ready to know more. Many an IT executive is eagerly looking at cloud computing as a way to rent infrastructure and reduce expenses, particularly for IT projects that are not mission critical.

Want to learn more?

Here is a list of resources on all of Microsoft's cloud computing initiatives including Azure, .Net Services, SQL Data Services.

Here is a link to the "How do I ... Azure" video blog series by 'softie Mithun Dhar.

Here is a link to some sample Azure projects posted on Codeplex.

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