Microsoft Cuts Azure Pricing, Says Some Cloud Servers Are Now Cheaper Than Amazon's

Microsoft on Monday responded to last week's Amazon Web Services cloud price cuts by lowering the price of its Azure virtual server and storage services across the board.

And Microsoft now says it's cheaper than AWS for certain types of virtual servers. But it's not saying whether it also plans to match Google's recent cloud price cuts.

This Thursday, Microsoft will add a new "Basic" tier to its general-purpose server lineup that will cost up to 27 percent less than the corresponding instances customers are currently using, which are now called "Standard" tier instances.

Basic instances are less expensive because they lack features such as load-balancing and auto-scaling, and they're designed for testing and development, Steven Martin, Microsoft's general manager for Windows Azure, said in a blog post Monday.

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[Related: Cloud Wake-Up Call: Google Takes Aim At Amazon With Price Cuts, Volume Discounts ]

Effective May 1, Microsoft will slash the price of its memory-intensive Linux server instances by up to 35 percent and Windows server instances by up to 27 percent, Martin said in the blog post. Microsoft is planning to add a Basic memory-intensive server tier "in the coming months," he said.

While Microsoft's Azure pricing for general-purpose servers is largely in line with what AWS charges, the software giant claims its pricing for memory-intensive Linux instances is 9 percent to 10 percent cheaper, depending on region.

For memory-intensive Windows instances, Microsoft claims a 12 percent to 14 percent price advantage.

On May 1, Microsoft will also lower Block Blob storage pricing by up to 65 percent for locally redundant storage, which involves keeping multiple replicas of data within a single region. For geographically redundant storage, where data is replicated between two regions, Microsoft is cutting pricing up to 44 percent.

Microsoft vowed last April to match AWS, price cut for price cut, and this is the second time this year that it has followed through on its pledge. But Microsoft hasn't yet said whether it plans to match Google's cloud price cuts as well.

After Google cut its cloud server and storage pricing last week by 32 percent to 85 percent, that's a question Microsoft might be compelled to answer soon. For now, though, Microsoft isn't saying anything.

’We do not have anything new to share beyond our commitment to match Amazon pricing for commodity services," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email. "While price is an important factor, Microsoft believes that overall innovation and quality will prove to be more important than commoditization."