Meet the New Windows Azure

Today we are releasing a major set of improvements to Windows Azure.  Below is a short-summary of just a few of them:

New Admin Portal and Command Line Tools

Today’s release comes with a new Windows Azure portal that will enable you to manage all features and services offered on Windows Azure in a seamless, integrated way.  It is very fast and fluid, supports filtering and sorting (making it much easier to use for large deployments), works on all browsers, and offers a lot of great new features – including built-in VM, Web site, Storage, and Cloud Service monitoring support.


The new portal is built on top of a REST-based management API within Windows Azure – and everything you can do through the portal can also be programmed directly against this Web API.

We are also today releasing command-line tools (which like the portal call the REST Management APIs) to make it even easier to script and automate your administration tasks.  We are offering both a Powershell (for Windows) and Bash (for Mac and Linux) set of tools to download.  Like our SDKs, the code for these tools is hosted on GitHub under an Apache 2 license.

Virtual Machines

Windows Azure now supports the ability to deploy and run durable VMs in the cloud.  You can easily create these VMs using a new Image Gallery built-into the new Windows Azure Portal, or alternatively upload and run your own custom-built VHD images.

Virtual Machines are durable (meaning anything you install within them persists across reboots) and you can use any OS with them.  Our built-in image gallery includes both Windows Server images (including the new Windows Server 2012 RC) as well as Linux images (including Ubuntu, CentOS, and SUSE distributions).  Once you create a VM instance you can easily Terminal Server or SSH into it in order to configure and customize the VM however you want (and optionally capture your own image snapshot of it to use when creating new VM instances).  This provides you with the flexibility to run pretty much any workload within Windows Azure.


The new Windows Azure Portal provides a rich set of management features for Virtual Machines – including the ability to monitor and track resource utilization within them. 


Our new Virtual Machine support also enables the ability to easily attach multiple data-disks to VMs (which you can then mount and format as drives).  You can optionally enable geo-replication support on these – which will cause Windows Azure to continuously replicate your storage to a secondary data-center at least 400 miles away from your primary data-center as a backup.


We use the same VHD format that is supported with Windows virtualization today (and which we’ve released as an open spec), which enables you to easily migrate existing workloads you might already have virtualized into Windows Azure.  We also make it easy to download VHDs from Windows Azure, which also provides the flexibility to easily migrate cloud-based VM workloads to an on-premise environment.  All you need to do is download the VHD file and boot it up locally, no import/export steps required.

Web Sites

Windows Azure now supports the ability to quickly and easily deploy ASP.NET, Node.js and PHP web-sites to a highly scalable cloud environment that allows you to start small (and for free) and then scale up as your traffic grows.  You can create a new web site in Azure and have it ready to deploy to in under 10 seconds:


The new Windows Azure Portal provides built-in administration support for Web sites – including the ability to monitor and track resource utilization in real-time:


You can deploy to web-sites in seconds using FTP, Git, TFS and Web Deploy.  We are also releasing tooling updates today for both Visual Studio and Web Matrix that enable developers to seamlessly deploy ASP.NET applications to this new offering.  The VS and Web Matrix publishing support includes the ability to deploy SQL databases as part of web site deployment – as well as the ability to incrementally update database schema with a later deployment.

You can integrate web application publishing with source control by selecting the “Set up TFS publishing” or “Set up Git publishing” links on a web-site’s dashboard:


Doing do will enable integration with our new TFS online service (which enables a full TFS workflow – including elastic build and testing support), or create a Git repository that you can reference as a remote and push deployments to.  Once you push a deployment using TFS or Git, the deployments tab will keep track of the deployments you make, and enable you to select an older (or newer) deployment and quickly redeploy your site to that snapshot of the code.  This provides a very powerful DevOps workflow experience.


Windows Azure now allows you to deploy up to 10 web-sites into a free, shared/multi-tenant hosting environment (where a site you deploy will be one of multiple sites running on a shared set of server resources).  This provides an easy way to get started on projects at no cost.


You can then optionally upgrade your sites to run in a “reserved mode” that isolates them so that you are the only customer within a virtual machine:


And you can elastically scale the amount of resources your sites use – allowing you to increase your reserved instance capacity as your traffic scales:


Windows Azure automatically handles load balancing traffic across VM instances, and you get the same, super fast, deployment options (FTP, Git, TFS and Web Deploy) regardless of how many reserved instances you use.

With Windows Azure you pay for compute capacity on a per-hour basis – which allows you to scale up and down your resources to match only what you need.

Cloud Services and Distributed Caching

Windows Azure also supports the ability to build cloud services that support rich multi-tier architectures, automated application management, and scale to extremely large deployments.  Previously we referred to this capability as “hosted services” – with this week’s release we are now referring to this capability as “cloud services”.  We are also enabling a bunch of new features with them.

Distributed Cache

One of the really cool new features being enabled with cloud services is a new distributed cache capability that enables you to use and setup a low-latency, in-memory distributed cache within your applications.  This cache is isolated for use just by your applications, and does not have any throttling limits.

This cache can dynamically grow and shrink elastically (without you have to redeploy your app or make code changes), and supports the full richness of the AppFabric Cache Server API (including regions, high availability, notifications, local cache and more).  In addition to supporting the AppFabric Cache Server API, it also now supports the Memcached protocol – allowing you to point code written against Memcached at it (no code changes required).

The new distributed cache can be setup to run in one of two ways:

1) Using a co-located approach.  In this option you allocate a percentage of memory in your existing web and worker roles to be used by the cache, and then the cache joins the memory into one large distributed cache.  Any data put into the cache by one role instance can be accessed by other role instances in your application – regardless of whether the cached data is stored on it or another role.  The big benefit with the “co-located” option is that it is free (you don’t have to pay anything to enable it) and it allows you to use what might have been otherwise unused memory within your application VMs.


2) Alternatively, you can add “cache worker roles” to your cloud service that are used solely for caching.  These will also be joined into one large distributed cache ring that other roles within your application can access.  You can use these roles to cache 10s or 100s of GBs of data in-memory very effectively – and the cache can be elastically increased or decreased at runtime within your application:


New SDKs and Tooling Support

We have updated all of the Windows Azure SDKs with today’s release to include new features and capabilities.  Our SDKs are now available for multiple languages, and all of the source in them is published under an Apache 2 license and and maintained in GitHub repositories.


The .NET SDK for Azure has in particular seen a bunch of great improvements with today’s release, and now includes tooling support for both VS 2010 and the VS 2012 RC.

We are also now shipping Windows, Mac and Linux SDK downloads for languages that are offered on all of these systems – allowing developers to develop Windows Azure applications using any development operating system.


Much, Much More

The above is just a short list of some of the improvements that are shipping in either preview or final form today – there is a LOT more in today’s release.  These include new Virtual Private Networking capabilities, new Service Bus runtime and tooling support, the public preview of the new Azure Media Services, new Data Centers, significantly upgraded network and storage hardware, SQL Reporting Services, new Identity features, support within 40+ new countries and territories, and much, much more.

You can learn more about Windows Azure and sign-up to try it for free at

You can also watch a live keynote I’m giving at 1pm June 7th (later today) where I’ll walk through all of the new features.  We will be opening up the new features I discussed above for public usage a few hours after the keynote concludes.  We are really excited to see the great applications you build with them.

Hope this helps,



  • Scott, that looks amazing. Great job to you and your team! You deserve a "it's 5 o'clock somewhere" moment now =D

  • Scott, that looks amazing. Great job to you and your team! You deserve a "it's 5 o'clock somewhere" moment now =D

  • Very nice. Thanks!

  • Holy crap. Nice job.

  • I just wanted to say Great Job and congratulations to you and your team. It's very exciting to see some of these new features. Keep it coming!

  • Love it Scott, this looks really powerful and easy to use.

  • What an impressive list of new features! Congrats to the team!

  • Uh no! They used "ALL CAPS" ...

    The features and UI look great! Great job! Will surely be using Azure in the very near future ...

  • Wow... this is so cool. Azure is rely becoming mature now.

    Do you have any plans on supporting Mercurial as well? Or should we just all go for GIT ;-)

    And what about the VM Imange Gallery. Does it contain a Windows 8 Release Preview... if not... is that a technical limitation, or can I just create one my self?

    I must say that this an impressive list of features, and I must compliment you from moving away from the Silverlight portal. If I understand you correct, I can now manage my severs from an iPad ;-)

  • Great news! Can't wait to get my hands on the new bits!

  • Looking forward to trying out the PowerShell module -- hopefully it has comprehensive support for Azure functions.

  • This is definitely fast,fluid and informative. Lot of rich features and a great job by the team.

  • So the previous Admin Portal was implemented in Silverlight, but the new one is in HTML not in SL?

  • Unbelievably excited about the web site features (Git deployment, woohoo!) and having a free option (and not just a free trial) will be the perfect hook for getting people on board. I love the ability to have the same service that I'm using for small internal testing / beta be scaled all the way up to a big Azure deployment without having management friction about cost in the beginning. This is going to be fun, congrats to the team!

  • Awesome new features, but of course we're never happy... :)

    1. Can I now send email from within Azure or do I still need to pay a separate service for that?
    2. Do you have any plans to provide hosted DNS resolution?

  • Looks sweet, especially the Git deployment part.

  • Wow, this really sounds great and I am going to try it out. It seems like the Azure team really listened to comments from developers and customers. Thank you!

  • If the free shared option is really free, and not a trial, then it is what I have been waiting to see (and thank you).

  • Wow! ...can you elaborate on the "free" part? Is this a viable alternative to like 1&1 VM hosting? roughly he same cost per month?

  • This looks freaking awesome, it seems that you guys are finally 'getting it', my only gripe is there is no 'free' version for starting out projects. Granted small is super cheap, also I would like to see RavenDB as an option for native storage support. As of now I would be responsible for managing and setting up my own RavenDB VM and thats just not feasible.

  • This is an amazing improvement over the old management portal and I am positively giddy for the git deployments. It will take time to get used to how awesome this will be.

  • Awesome.. These are all great feature additions to Windows Azure!!! Excited to be there in person for the Event today

  • Do you get a unique IP with the free shared instances?

  • The new azure updates look interesting, but will I still get emails about billing statements which don't exist? When last I tried azure it was such a headache just to have an account.

  • Looks fantastic. Your team is doing a great job of branching out into infrastructure instead of just platform. I'm looking forward to trying out some of the new network and endpoint features with VMs.

    Good luck on your presentation today!

  • Wow! lots of great new features in this new release.
    I've been using the VM Roles for a while now, kept having to upload diff images for every deployment. Looks like things will be easier going forward

  • I haven't checked the pricing in a while, but an extra small VM for 9.36$ is better than most other cloud hosting solutions out there. so it looks like azure is seriously becoming the best option for cloud hosting right now

  • "Windows Azure now allows you to deploy up to 10 web-sites into a free, shared/multi-tenant hosting environment.."

    This is a game changer and what I've been wanting (and waiting) for. I now feel like Azure has the proper arsenal to compete with Google's AppEngine.

    One request on the following:
    "Windows Azure automatically handles load balancing traffic across VM instances, and you get the same, super fast, deployment options (FTP, Git, TFS and Web Deploy) regardless of how many reserved instances you use.

    With Windows Azure you pay for compute capacity on a per-hour basis – which allows you to scale up and down your resources to match only what you need."

    I would like to see two handle bars instead of one on the "Reserved" instances slider. Thereby allowing me to set the minimum and maximum auto-scaling capacity. I can then be ensured that my application has sufficient hardware and can grow to a predefined amount automatically as demand requires.

  • I need this Metro style as a Silverlight template right now or I'll die! any plans on this? ;)

  • What about WCF? You haven't mentioned it even once!

  • So nice :) Thanks!

  • Thanks Scott, this is amazing!

  • Is the a "free, shared/multi-tenant hosting environment" subject to the 90-day trial period, or is it free for an indefinite time period? Surely there must be some other limitations, such as instance size or bandwidth usage too?

  • Great to finally be able to speak about all of this goodness! Great work Windows Azure Team!

  • Impressive release, let's keep that management portal stable now please. Looking forward to Mercurial support.

  • I see why Microsoft was bothering us with all "contributions" to the Linux Kernel... part of the EEE strategy. ;)

  • @Scott

    Why do you use Github and not Codeplex? Should we stop using Codeplex if Microsoft is not going to use Codeplex anymore? This is a very confusing message you are sending, because Codeplex supports Git.

    Thanks in advance for responding (I hope)!

  • Finally...amazing. Well done.

  • @Mike - for now you have to use a separate service to send email.

  • Looks and works great!! Although, I do I access subscription information (Subscription Id) in the new interface?

  • I am a young developer from India. I started learning .Net a few years ago. I thought it would be easy with so many sources information on the net. But now I am finding it increasingly difficult to sustain with the sudden changes being introduced successively. On top of that I cannot access most of the latest .Net products/technology upgrades because most of them are not compatible with my OS [Vista]. I am certainly not going to buy a new OS just for installing a new IDE or a framework because I cannot afford it. If the express 2012 versions would have been made compatible with Vista I could have continued my journey with .Net. If its not going to happen that leaves me with only one choice; to leave .Net platform and choose something else that is more accessible to me and wouldn't create hurdles in my learning process.

  • Scott, this is exiting!

    I tried to signup for the free 90 days trial, but the checkout process failed. I see some usability issues with the signup/checkout, and maybe a bug. Should i tell somebody?

  • just wowww :p Great Work !!!!

  • You guys really listened, every single pain point and annoyance that i've experienced developing apps for Azure over the past year has been fixed. Well done to your team for a great product, MSFT could just get their spark back with your leadership!

  • All,

    Was about to ask what storage you get with the free sites and found this:
    compute 750 small compute hours per month**
    web sites 10 Shared Web Sites***
    relational database 1GB SQL Database instance
    storage 20GB with 1,000,000 storage transactions
    bandwidth Unlimited inbound / 20GB Outbound


  • My last comment.

    Actually, im not sure what I wrote is true, can someone confirm, I was looking at the 90 day free trial not the included websites option.


  • Fantastic,Scott and team - great to see and experience the new features.
    We recently ported bits of our Icertis Contract Lifecycle Management (ICLM) app to the web hosting platform, thanks to having had some privileged access to the platform’s test environment, and this just makes so much sense for almost any Azure app. The ICLM architecture runs a web role to host the website, and another independently scalable web role that hosts a set of WCF business services, apart from other worker roles – the website and the WCF host were obvious candidates to move to the web hosting platform. More details with architecture, implementation, etc are here:
    Thanks, Microsoft and the partner and customer friendly teams within the Azure application platform teams.

  • Being able to deploy straight from a TFS and Git repo...that's just simply awesome!

  • wow...that's a bunch of useful!.

  • Kick Ass! Really excited about this launch and the prospects of us moving over more of our services.

  • I have an online trading system and I am considering between Amazon EC2 and Windows Azure about price and services. Now, I would like to trial on Windows Azure but I cannot register from Vietnam location.
    How can I do it?

  • Please win me back from AWS.

  • Brilliant stuff!! feels good to see excellence as a daily part of life at Microsoft..
    kudos to scott and team!!

  • WOW!! This is a fantastic release. As far as I can see most of the really annoying things with Azure has been adressed by this update!

  • Where can I find the new Management Portal? I'm still getting the old one.

  • My Azure portal doesnt look anything like this, its still the old version, has this been rolled out or am I on another planet Azure?

  • really superb.........

  • The Platform has matured a lot than what it was in 2010… Nice!!!

  • good job Scott and team... !!

  • Great improvements! I have a question:

    If I understand correctly you can use the free shared website hosting feature to host low-traffic sites that does not use database. Is it possible to host a Wordpress site for absolutely free? Since it needs a MySql instance, I would guess it is not.

  • Impressive! Very impressive! Havn't fully grasped the consequences yet - but one thing I now for sure: It's christmas!

  • Looks pretty and cool. I loved it!

  • Hi Scott, I've been looking forward for this release as we've been "warned" last week @ Tech-Talk about HTML5 Metro coming to Azure - but I must say is beyond expectations! Excellent work for the team!

  • When I login to / I only see the old version. CTRL+F5 does not give the new.

    Does anybody know how to view the new portal?

  • Nice! Looking forward to start testing :)

  • Nice set of new features, but I am still waiting for you to introduce SSIS as a component of Azure. SQL Database exists in the cloud, SSRS now exists in the cloud. When will you make this critical component available so we no longer need to workaround it using a VM?

  • Thanks for putting this together!

  • This looks so sweet! I can't wait to try it out.

  • Great job Scott and team! Very impressive set of features. Can't wait to take it for a test drive.

  • I just wanted to 2nd the request for Mercurial support. (and/or SVN)

  • Still WAY to expensive for the little guy considering I can get a dedicated server with 6-core, 16GB ram and everything else I'd want for about $150 per month.

  • Started using it last night. It took me five minutes to work out how launch a new Wordpress blog. Thanks so much for making my life easier.

  • Are there any upgrades to the marketplace? Having to manage licensing and user access was what put me off azure last time I looked at it.

  • Wow! Great Job Man. I'm in love with Windows Azure

  • Wow! Great Job Man. I'm in love with Windows Azure

  • WOW!! I have been looking at getting started with Azure as a platform and after this announcement I am going ahead full steam.

  • Wow! Thank you for your hard work - I'm an believer now!! Looking forward to put my hands on it.

  • The design looks a bit weird with the capital sentences, etc.
    I wonder why so much effort is put in the design of admin portals

  • I like the tile interface.
    Windows 8 look is very bold beautiful and fluid.
    is a newcomer, young and attractive
    it's perfectly suited for tablets thanks to the low power drain and low heat generated by systems running on ARM processor !!;)
    im so happy for codename:Windows 8 and i think Windows 95 was a big deal for users and developers alike.
    Overall, this release feels smoother, faster, snappier, and more stable.
    Metro does rock on desktop and laptop!
    with this your luck can be perfect.
    now with touch you can have all your requirements plus even more.
    My prediction is clear and I know that there will be a much perfect luck for the whole W(P)8(RT) universe than Microsoft can imagine.I respect Microsoft for doing that.

    and dont forget Thank for feedback mark as answer and log uri

  • The Url to the new portal is:

  • Very nice. A great step forward. Just fired up my first site on Azure.

  • I'm still getting the old portal too - am I missing something?

  • Missing a key screen shot, at the bottom of the old portal is a link to try the new one, you don't get switched to preview automatically!

  • Thanks for giving 3 months free trial which is helping the new set of developers joining the Azure community with interest to do something great...

  • I am usually a Linux fanboy... but oh my god! I will definitely be looking into this one!

  • Very impressive.
    Scott, You are the most precious team leader.
    I really want you back to guide Silverlight direction.

  • Should I be thinking of moving my web roles to the new Azure Websites?
    My web roles are working great, but I don't like that the smallest change in a aspx page requires upload of the whole web role (as opposed to having the website hosted in an FTP site, and then I can just upload the changed page). Thanks!

  • Hey Scott,

    I still see the old management portal. Is there anyway to fast track or is there some checkbox I need to check to start using the new admin portal?


  • This is fantastic, being an AWS user for number of years, Azure is coming to maturity with these new product offerings. Please let us know about the Azure locations Globally that could be a a major step forward for Microsoft. As countries like Australia and New Zealand, it becomes important for adoption for governance policies, in large institutions to keep their data in the same country.
    Congratulations once again !

  • Good Job !!

    Too many change now.

    i need study again. :(

  • To those who were wondering how to open the new Azure Management Portal, there is a link at the bottom middle of the screen that takes you there. Last I checked you should also be able to return to the old portal as well, but I assume that will go eventually.

  • After spending 20 minutes clicking around the portal. I want to say "Thank you". Simplicity is the key. Oh yes, thanks for removing the "Hosted Services" and "AppFabric" terms from the site. I never like that names. One more thing, finally I can log in to the Azure portal from my iPad, no more plug-in.
    So the Azure plans to release the New management portal for the Azure SQL?

    Thanks again!

  • The SQL Reporting services on Azure are not priced right for how I would use it. I need to keep it on all the time for reports-on-demand. My users might be running 0 to 50 reports per hour, but I can't queue them up and run them all at once because then they wouldn't be on-demand. So it would cost me more than all my other services combined to keep a single instance of SQL Reporting running on a monthly basis. Fail.

  • Is it possible to join virutal machine in the cloud to internal Active Directory?

  • Scott,

    Forgive me if this appears to be a random question. I have been looking at the Azure pricing model and while I appreciate how flexible is it, I wonder if you have a study that demonstrates the cost of running something like Facebook on Windows Azure?

    Many thanks

  • No love for Subversion? I would hazard a guess that more dev shops use Subversion than either Git or TFS.

  • ZOMG!!!! Integration with TFS is the real win here. This has been a thorn in my side for so long that it still hurts just to remember.

    GO GO GO!

  • Great features,

    Looks like the new portal is using WinJS. Is it true? If yes how?

  • Scott, are these features all 'Preview' or are these finished and production ready?

    I was reading up on an example of the co-located caching option, but it states that those caching features are still 'Preview'!
    This is the sample:


  • The Transient Fault Framework has references that break apps trying to use the Caching Preview...

    This assembly:
    Practices.EnterpriseLibrary.WindowsAzure.TransientFaultHandling, Version=5.0.1118.0,...

    References this assembly:
    Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.Core, Version=

    This screws up the inclusion of this assembly (from Caching Preview):
    Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.Core, Version=

    Not sure why the Transient FaultHandling framework needs to access AppFabric Server Caching assemblies, but it seems like we might be missing an abstraction in there..

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