General Availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services, Web Sites Plus Major Updates to Azure

General Availability of Windows Azure Web Sites, Mobile Services, New AutoScale, Alerts, WAAD, Images of SQL Server 2014, Windows Server 2012 R2, No Credit Card for MSDN. Plus Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Release Preview, PayPal's SDK.

At day 2, Build 2013, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Microsoft share the latest updates and talk about what's next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and more.

Build showcases how developers can take advantage of the future of Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and much more.

"Nearly 1,000 new businesses are betting on Windows Azure daily, and as momentum for Azure grows, so too does the developer opportunity to build applications that power modern businesses," Nadella said. To meet these demands, "Microsoft has been doubling down on Windows Azure."

In addition, Microsoft also announced the General Availability (GA) of Windows Azure Mobile Services and Windows Azure Web Sites.

Windows Azure Mobile Services GA, which enables developers building Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android apps to store data in the cloud, authenticate users and send push notifications--is now available in three tiers--"Free, Standard and Premium."

"Standard and Premium tiers are metered by number of API calls and backed by our standard 99.9% monthly SLA," informs Microsoft adding, "All the three tiers will be free of charge until August 1, 2013." SQL database and storage will continue to be billed separately during this period.

"Mobile Services simplifies user authentication, push notification, server side data and business logic so you can get your mobile application in market fast."

Mobile Services provides native SDKs for Windows Store, Windows Phone, Android, iOS and HTML5 as well as REST APIs.

In addition, building Windows 8.1 connected apps is now easier than ever with the support for Mobile Services in the Visual Studio 2013 Preview and "customers can also turn on Gzip compression between service and client."

Windows Azure Web Sites GA now available as Standard (formerly named reserved) and Free tiers, allows developers to create websites on a flexible, secure and scalable platform to reach new customers.

"Standard tier is backed by the standard 99.9% monthly SA," microsoft stated. "The preview pricing discount of 33% for Standard tier Windows Azure Web Sites will expire on August 1, 2013. Websites running in the shared tier remain in preview with no changes."

Service Updates for Windows Azure Web Sites Standard tier include:

  • SSL Support: SNI or IP based SSL support is now available.
  • Independent site scaling: Customers can select individual sites to scale up or down
  • Memory dumps for debugging: Customers can get access to memory dumps using a REST API to help with site debugging and diagnostics.
  • Support for 64 bit processes: Customers can run in 64 bit web sites and take advantage of additional memory and faster computation.

Scott Guthrie demonstrating several platform advancements to highlight Microsoft's enterprise cloud momentum. The improvements include: "previews of improved auto-scaling, alerting and notifications, and tooling support for Windows Azure through Visual Studio."

Windows Azure also now provides a number of capabilities that help you better understand the health of your applications. The features include: "

  • ability to monitor the health and availability of your applications,
  • receive notifications when your service availability changes,
  • perform action-based events,
  • and automatically scale to match current demands."

"Availability, monitoring, auto scaling and alerting are available in preview for Windows Azure Web Sites, Cloud Services, and Virtual Machines. Alerts and monitoring are available in preview for Mobile Services," Guthrie explains.

In addition, he previewed how Windows Azure Active Directory provides organizations and ISVs, such as Box, with a single sign-on experience to access cloud-based applications.

"We're working with third parties like Box and others so they can leverage Windows Azure Active Directory to enable a single sign-on (SSO) experience for their users," he said. "If a higher level of security is needed, you can leverage Active Authentication to give you multifactor authentication."

Microsoft also said that "most MSDN customers can now activate their Windows Azure benefits in corporate accounts without entering a credit card number" making it easier to claim this benefit.

No Credit Card required for MSDN subscribers

Microsoft also demonstrated the developer productivity enhancements of the .NET 4.5.1 runtime that enable developers to build the next wave of modern applications that run across devices and cloud, while also extending their existing line-of-business applications.

The updates include improved coding, designing, testing and optimizing of XAML applications in Windows 8.1. Microsoft published a white paper providing guidance to .NET developers.

Guggenheimer showcased how Bing as a platform can extend across a broad set of devices and client app experiences using Bing Developer Services.

"Whether developing for existing, client/server, or emerging device and cloud application patterns, developers need a platform that offers consistency and flexibility. Only the Windows platform -- spanning Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Azure and more -- meets this need," he said.

The demo showed Microsoft translation technology in the recent Twitter for Windows Phone update, which now provides instant, single-click translation of tweets.

"Tweets in a language other than your default language are automatically translated and available in the detailed Tweet view. That means your Tweets can also be translated and viewed in other languages by users around the globe. With support for 40+ languages, your social sphere is primed to travel."

Go grab the latest Twitter app now from the Windows Phone Store!

Windows Phone Twitter app adds Microsoft Translation

Microsoft made the PayPal's software development kit, generally available, that allows developers to integrate the payment experience for "128 million account holders into a Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8 app."

In the video below PayPal Evangelist Johm Lunn talks about the new PayPal SDK that makes in app purchases easy:

In addition, Unity Technologies, game development platforms with nearly 2 million community members, announced a strategic collaboration to make it easier for developers to bring popular games, entertainment and apps to Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Xbox One for Microsoft Studios publishing partners.

Also, available today are the SQL Server 2014 and Windows Server 2012 R2 preview images in the Virtual Machines Image Gallery. "These images are available now at a 33% discount during the preview. And you pay for what you use, by the minute," microsoft said.

"You can get started with Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 by simply provisioning a prebuilt image from the gallery," adds the company.

Finally, Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Release Preview, which extends Windows 8.1 technologies and provides additional flexibility to meet the needs of industry devices also made available.

Through a series of partner demos, Guggenheimer demonstrated the common core of the Windows platform spanning PC, tablet, phone and embedded devices.

Onstage, he demonstrated "the Avis Select and Go app running on a Windows Embedded 8 Industry tablet and a Embedded 8 Handheld device to illustrate the opportunity for developers to capitalize on the shared Windows codebase and enable industry-specific branding, peripheral support (such as mag stripe readers and barcode scanners), and lockdown capabilities," microsoft writes.

You can download Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Release Preview here.

Update 06/28: Telefónica keeps its 340 million customers connected using hybrid private-cloud strategy, based on Windows Server 2012 with the Hyper-V technology, at the new Tier 4 Madrid data center. "With a hybrid-cloud strategy, Telefónica can deliver IT services to the business in days instead of months and make them far more reliable."

Soon, "Telefónica will link this private cloud to Windows Azure, the Microsoft public cloud service, to give the business customer tremendous flexibility in where it runs its IT workloads," Micorosoft writes.

Telefónica built a 15,000-meter Tier 4 data center in Madrid and consolidated its 27 European data centers--containing 18,000 physical servers--into a state-of-the-art, highly reliable data center where the company will consolidate to just 1,600 servers.