What scored the biggest applause from the audience at TechEd 2013 North America during the opening keynote? The news that users will no longer be charged for virtual machines running on Azure once they've been stopped, charging is now per-minute, and and that MSDN service licences can be used to deploy machines on Azure. Microsoft is also upping the number of Azure credits given to MSDN subscribers.
Scott Guthrie, corporate VP for Windows Azure, announced the changes during a keynote segment on developer improvements. "We no longer charge for stock VMs running inside Windows Azure. Prior to today, if you stopped a virtual machine, we still kept charging unless you deleted it. Now starting today, when you stop a VM you no longer get billed." If you reacivate that VM, charging will begin again.
"We are moving to a new per-minute billing model," Guthrie continued. Previously, if you ran a VM for part of an hour, you would be charged for a full hour. "We now pro-rate the number of minutes you use the VM for. This enables you to save a tremendous amount of money."
"We're also today enabling you to use your MSDN service licences on Azure at no charge. You can install them within any VM on Windows Azure or deploy pre-created images." That's particularly useful for startups, who won't face such large licensing costs when developing apps.
Microsoft has discounted the per-hour rates for Azure developers to $0.06 per hour, which is a substantial cut in some instances. MSDN subscribers also receive free monthly credits for Azure usage, which is aimed to encourage usage of Azure as a test and dev platform. The credits can be tracked in an online portal. MSDN professional members get $50 per month, premium members get $100 a month, and ultimate members get $150 per month. (All prices are in US dollars.) That's likely to be even more appealing to local developers once Microsoft launches its Azure data centre in Australia. Microsoft is also running a competition where one Azure developer will win an Aston Martin; I was initially sceptical, but Australians can actually enter, though you might have to pay to ship the car to Australia yourself.