Try Azure!At the keynote on Monday of TechEd NA (June 3), we made some pretty big announcements around how Windows Azure Trials and various subscription benefits would be changing. So for today’s edition of our “TechEd 2013 Favorites” series, I thought I’d briefly introduce you to some surprising changes to the options you have for “kicking the tires” with Windows Azure

“So.. the 90-day trial is changed?”

It is.  In fact, it is no more.  But don’t worry.  The new trial is better.  -->* http://aka.ms/DoAzure *<--  But before I get ahead of myself, the areas of change I want to cover are:

So let’s discuss them.

The Free Trial

The Windows Azure trial is now one month of up to $200 worth of usage.  Rather than trying to give you three months of usage, but then suddenly disabling your trial before the end of the month if you’ve over-stepped the trial limits (which, I hope you’ll agree, was a better alternative than charging your credit card!), it was determined that a straight-up dollar limit would be given to you, with a limit of up to one month of usage.  So, how ever you want to use Windows Azure, you can do it until your $200 are used up, or until the end of your month of usage.

Use of Azure in the free trial can only be for testing or training.  No “production” use.

MSDN Subscription

Your Windows Azure usage available depends upon the level of subscription you have:

  • MSDN Professional: $200 in the first month, then $50 per month
  • MSDN Premium: $200 in the first month, then $100 per month
  • MSDN Ultimate: $200 in the first month, then $150 per month

Like the free trial, this usage is for non-production use only, and starts with $200 worth of use for the first month.  Subsequent months will grant you the dollar values you see above.

Additional Benefits:

  • MSDN subscribers receive a 33% discount on Windows Virtual Machines, and 25% discounts on Cloud Services, HDInsight, and Reserved Websites.
  • No additional charge for MSDN software.  You can use the software covered by your MSDN subscription for development and test purposes, with the exception of Windows client which is not licensed for usage on Windows Azure. You can choose to upload your own VHD with MSDN software installed, remote install MSDN software, or select from our virtual machine image gallery. You will only be charged at the discounted Windows Server rate regardless of what MSDN software is run on top of Windows Server.

Additional Considerations:

  • Usage within the Windows Azure MSDN subscription does not carry a financially-backed SLA. Microsoft reserves the right to suspend any instance (VM or cloud service) that runs continuously for more than 120 hours or if they determine that the instance is being used for production. They are making this capacity available to MSDN subscribers on a best efforts basis; there is no guarantee of capacity availability.

Microsoft Partner Network

Registered members of the Microsoft Partner Network can take advantage of $200 of usage in the first month, and then are granted $100 for subsequent months.  (Not bad!)

BizSpark

Registered members of the BizSpark program can take advantage of $200 of usage in the first month, and then are granted $150 for subsequent months.  (Even better!)  They receive the same benefits as an MSDN Ultimate customer; however, an exception has been made for BizSpark members on the no production use restriction.  BizSpark customer may use their benefit for production use. (Sweet!)

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“So Kevin… how do I know how much I’ve spent during the month in my Windows Azure trial subscription?”

Great question!  While you’re in the Windows Azure Administrator console, you’ll see your name up to the top-right.  Click on it to reveal a menu, and click on “View my bill”…

View my bill

Click on the subscription that you want to review, and you should see an “overview” list of the various usages (data transfer in/out, storage, transactions, compute hours, etc.) and the amount that you have spent in each area. 

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Good stuff?  I think so.  It simplifies what you can do with the free trial.