The free usage period for Windows Azure is at an end

Microsoft and many other companies are looking to cloud based offerings to provided cheaper solutions to customers that are faster to deploy. Microsoft deployed its Windows Azure platform as its first big entry into the cloud application market.

The Windows Azure platform was unveiled in October of 2008 and includes the Windows Azure cloud-based OS, Microsoft SQL Azure cloud database, and the AppFabric platform to make connecting cloud services with on-premises apps possible. 

Microsoft announced today that the Windows Azure platform is now generally available in 21 different countries and starting today Microsoft partners will be able to launch Windows Azure and SQL Azure production applications and services with full Service Level Agreements (SLA). Microsoft reports that he AppFabric Service Bus and Access Control will continue to be free until April 2010 for users who sign up for a commercial subscription.

Microsoft warns that customers who have not upgraded their CTP accounts to paid commercial subscriptions will need to do so to maintain access to the accounts. Those who don’t upgrade to Windows Azure CTP accounts will have service disabled and any Windows Azure Storage will be read-only. Customers using SQL Azure CTP accounts and don't upgrade to paid will still be able to use existing databases, but they will not be able to create new ones. Microsoft states that on March 1, 2010, any SQL Azure CTP accounts not upgraded to paid will be deleted and users will need to export their data to avoid loss if not upgrading.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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