Microsoft Drops Fees For Moving Data Into Windows Azure

Free data transfer into Windows Azure will provide "significant cost savings for customers whose cloud applications experience substantial inbound traffic and customers interested in migrating large quantities of existing data to the cloud," Microsoft said in a posting on the Windows Azure team blog.

Windows Azure is Microsoft's Platform-as-a-Service offering for building and deploying cloud applications. It competes with Amazon's Elastic BeanStalk, Google's AppEngine and Salesforce's, among others.

Microsoft has not disclosed how Windows Azure is performing in the marketplace, but there have been questions about whether its usage has met expectations.

While Microsoft offers free data transfers into Azure during off-peak times, the company charges for transfers during peak times. The cost varies by region with data transfers in North America priced at 10 cents per GB inbound and 15 cents per GB outbound, according to Microsoft's online Windows Azure Platform Offer Comparison Table.

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The free data ingress offer starts with billing periods that begin on or after July 1. Microsoft will continue to charge for outbound data transfers.

The move will eliminate one element of what can be a complex pricing model. Windows Azure users pay fees for compute time, data transfers, storage capacity and storage transactions, plus monthly fees for the SQL Azure cloud database and fees for the Windows Azure AppFabric cloud computing services