A (small) price cut for Windows Azure

Free data transfers starting July 1, but other charges remain

Microsoft is trumpeting a price cut for Windows Azure to the low low price of ... free for all customers starting July 1.

But in practice the cut may not gain you much in the way of savings. The free price applies to inbound data transfers, the data transferred by customers to the Azure service. But there are still charges for numerous other components of Azure, and an introductory offer already gave customers 20GB of inbound data transfers for free. 

There's a handy little cost calculator that shows how much each component of the Windows Azure service will run you. The calculator shows, for instance, that 50GB of inbound data transfer costs $5 per month, and 500GB of data transfer costs $50 per month. 

There are additional charges for outbound data transfers, storage and transactions, use of relational databases, the content delivery network and, of course, the compute instances. 

One "exra small" compute instance costs $37.50 per month, while a large instance is $360 per month and an extra large is $720 per month. 

While that would seem to be more significant than the data transfer costs, certain customers may save quite a bit of money. Microsoft quoted customer David MacLaren of VRX Studios as saying "whether a company is dealing with megabytes, gigabytes or terabytes, eliminating data ingress fees will significantly reduce their research and development, testing and operational costs." 

After more than a year on the market, Microsoft is still trying to gain a foothold with Azure against bigger players like Amazon and Salesforce. More price cuts could be on the way. In his first public appearance since becoming the head of Microsoft's Server & Tools division, Satya Nadella said Microsoft's strategy for packaged software and cloud computing is "low price and high volume."

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