Today, Windows Azure announced enhancements and changes in the Windows Azure Offer available to BizSpark members through their MSDN subscriptions. For a comprehensive review of the changes, you should read Scott Guthrie's two blog posts about the matter:

Windows Azure: Announcing New Dev/Test Offering, BizTalk Services, SSL Support with Web Sites, AD Improvements, Per Minute Billing

Windows Azure: Announcing Major Improvements for Dev/Test in the Cloud

Here are a few highlights that we think BizSpark members might find particularly interesting:

  1. The way BizSpark members received their Windows Azure benefits has been simplified. Starting in August, members will receive a monthly credit to use for whatever Windows Azure Services they want.
  2. Billing is now calculated per-minute for Virtual Machines, Web roles and Worker roles.
  3. When you stop a VM, you won’t be charged compute time while it is stopped – yet your deployment state and configuration will still be preserved. 
  4. Your monthly credits will last even longer with new discounted hourly rates for several Windows Azure services.
  5. You can now use your MSDN dev/test software licenses on Windows Azure, reducing time and resources needed to set up dev/test environments. This cloud use right applies to all software except Windows Client.
  6. BizSpark members can continue to use their MSDN Azure subscriptions for production use.
  7. BizSpark members who have already activated their Windows Azure MSDN – Visual Studio Ultimate subscription will be automatically migrated to a new BizSpark offer in August that will provide continued production use rights. No action is needed.

We are excited about today’s announcements, especially the increased flexibility, discounts and per-minute billing that can help BizSpark startups save money as they build in the cloud. 

For additional questions on your BizSpark Windows Azure benefits, please email bizspark@microsoft.com