Microsoft hopes to entice cloud developers to its Windows Azure platform with the offer of free time to work on and build cloud apps.
"It's no secret that the cloud is opening up new opportunities for developers to create never-before-seen application experiences, improve existing applications and generate new revenue streams," the Microsoft Windows Azure team wrote in a blog post highlighting the freebie.
Microsoft launched a Windows Azure introductory special offer that gives cloud developers 750 free hours of the Windows Azure extra-small compute instance and 25 hours of the Windows Azure small compute instance. The trial, which is part of Microsoft's Cloud Power campaign, also includes 500 MB of storage and 10,000 storage transactions; data transfers free for 500 MB in and 500 MB out; and 1 G of the Web Edition SQL Azure database for 90 days. Cloud developers also get 100,000 AppFabric Access control transactions and two AppFabric Service Bus connections. The freebie runs through June, Microsoft said.
"This extended free trial will allow developers to try out the Windows Azure platform without the need for up-front investment costs," Microsoft said.
The company added: "The Windows Azure platform was made with developers in mind. It allows developers to use their existing .NET, Java and PHP skills to develop, test and deploy compelling and innovative applications without worrying about the backend infrastructure and other operational constraints."
The Microsoft Windows Azure free trial offer for cloud developers comes as the software giant's cloud platform faces an uphill climb amid internal turmoil. Last week, Amitabh Srivastava, a senior vice president in Microsoft's Server and Tools Business left Microsoft after more than a decade. Srivastava was one of the principal architects of Windows Azure along with Ray Ozzie, who is also leaving the company.
In response to recent departures, Microsoft has named Satya Nadella as the head of the Server and Tools Business to replace Bob Muglia, who left his post as president of that business earlier this year.
The cloud developer freebie for Windows Azure also comes as Microsoft faces stiffer competition from its cloud development platform foes. Google has continued to develop its Google App Engine platform and Salesforce.com has made strides with its Force.com platform. Meanwhile, earlier this year Amazon Web Services launched Elastic Beanstalk, a platform that helps developers deploy and manage their applications in the cloud.