On Wednesday, Microsoft released the latest Visual Studio (VS) extension preview for building apps that run on its Windows Azure cloud computing operating system and services platform. The Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio May 2009 CTP is the first to support VS 2010 development for the cloud. VS 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Beta 1 technologies were released on May 18.
The Azure SDK, which is installed as part of the Azure Tools for Visual Studio download, has also been updated. The Azure team announced several new features related to blob and table storage. On Friday, the team is also rolling out some changes to the way alerts, analytics and Windows Live ID integration is handled in the Azure Services Developer Portal. Learn more about the latest updates here.
Azure extends Windows to the cloud with an "operating system" that offers compute, management and storage services and an Azure Services Platform that enables developers to use .NET 3.5 SP1 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1 tooling to build Internet-scale apps that run in Microsoft's datacenters. The Azure technology also requires Windows Vista SP1 or Windows Server 2008 with IIS 7.0 enabled, and SQL Server 2005 or above.
.NET developer Roger Jennings, who authors the OakLeaf Systems blog, is writing a book on Azure and has downloaded the May 2009 CTPs. He says using Azure tools for VS 2010 does not offer any particular advantages right now. "Windows Azure doesn't support .NET 4.0 and there's not yet a .NET Services SDK that's compatible with VS 2010," he wrote in an e-mail. The most recent .NET Services SDK, to date, is the March 2009 CTP.
That may soon change, although Microsoft has not announced any timeframe for a compatible .NET Services SDK. The Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio and Windows Azure SDK May 2009 CTPs follow March 2009 previews.
Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio include C# and VB project templates, service role configuration tooling, cloud service debugging in the local development fabric, and access to the Azure Services Developer Portal. VS 2008 support is updated in the May release, according to Microsoft, offering improved stability and better integration with the Azure SDK development fabric and cloud-based storage services. You can download the May 2009 Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio CTP and the May 2009 Windows Azure SDK here and find Windows Azure code samples for VS 2010 here.
Microsoft is expected to announce the commercial release date of Azure and the Azure Services Platform at its upcoming Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in November. The consumption-based pricing model is likely to be announced this summer. Microsoft's cloud computing initiative, which centers on Azure, is less than a year old and was publicly announced during the opening keynote at PDC 2008.
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