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There are a lot of reasons why the 2011 holiday season is a great time to take a look at Azure development. There are a number of offers and releases that allow you to start to explore cloud-based development on the Microsoft platform, best of all; they are all pretty much free to take advantage of.

$0 Spending Limit on Azure Trial & MSDN Accounts

Ever since the introduction of billing for Windows Azure it has always been an issue for many developers wanting to learn Azure that, if you are not careful, you can easily run up charges on the trial accounts when going above the free quotas.

With the “$0 spending limit” available on 90 day trial and MSDN accounts Azure development developers can start to explore the Azure platform without fear of an unexpected bill at the end of the month. You will, however, have to enter credit-card details.

It is great to see this option available, I know it is something that developers have been clamoring for ever since billing was introduced on the platform. Hopefully this will be extended to a fixed-price limit on Azure billing at some point in the future.

Details of the trail offers are here .

No Charge for Azure Service Bus until April 2012

The Azure Service bus provides brokered and relayed messaging capabilities hosted in Windows Azure datacenters.  Launched in CTP in 2007 under the name of “BizTalk Services”, then re-branded to “.NET Services”, “AppFabric Service Bus”, and now “Azure Service Bus” the messaging services are a great way to explore the capabilities of Azure when creating hybrid (part cloud, part on-premise) applications.

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the brokered messaging capabilities of the service bus and am very impressed with the functionality provided. With four months of being above to use the services for free (data transfer charges still apply), now is a perfect time to gain some experience of using the technologies, or even create a small proof-of-concept application in your organization.

You may like to check out my free e-book on the brokered messaging capabilities of the service bus “The Developer’s Guide to AppFabric”. It’s available here .

As “AppFabric” has been dropped from these branding of the service bus I’ll be re-branding the title of the book in the next release.

Details of the offer are here .

CTP of Azure Service Bus Integration Services

If, like me, you have been following the long and winding roadmap of BizTalk Server, and want to get an early insight into what “BizTalk vNext” will look like, now is your chance.

The first CTP of Microsoft’s cloud-based integration capabilities has been released and is available to use in the AppFabric Labs environment. As the technology is in developer-preview mode, it’s free to use, no credit card required!

Details of the CTP are here .

Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 10:59 AM BizTalk , Azure , VS2010 , AppFabic | Back to top

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