Get $200 Of Free Credit To Try Out Microsoft Azure

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You can't have failed to notice that everyone's talking about cloud computing these days.  But what exactly is it?  Cloud computing simply means storing stuff, or running programs, on computers and servers that are based in remote data centres rather than in your own premises, office, home, etc etc.

In the past, for example, a company might have bought and operated its own email server, web server, shared network file storage, and so on, using its own computers.  Cloud computing means renting servers stored elsewhere, which can generally save money.  You still get complete access to a computer or server, which you can do with as you wish, but you no longer have physical access to the box.  

One of the best-known players in cloud computing is Microsoft, with its Azure product.  Azure is a collection of around a million computers, housed in various locations around the world.  To set up a new virtual machine, just log into your Azure account, choose the machine size you want, and within 5 minutes you're ready to connect to it remotely via Windows Remote Desktop (which is built into all versions of Windows from XP onwards).

You only pay for your Azure machines when they're actually powered up.  A machine with a single processor core and 1.75 GB of RAM will cost you 9 US cents per hour.  At the other end of the scale, 16 processors and 112 GB of RAM runs to $4.90 an hour.  Disk space is included in the price.

Best of all, if everything goes wrong, just delete your VM and create a new one.  It's easier and quicker than trying to fix a problem.

If you fancy trying out Azure, and setting up one or more virtual computers to connect to, signing up at http://azure.microsoft.com will get you $200 of credit to get you started.  Be aware, though, that you'll need to give your credit card details.  Also, you must remember to shut down your VMs from the special control portal, and not just using the Shut Down feature on the machine itself, otherwise the payment meter will continue running.

With a basic machine coming in at less than $15 a month, even if you leave it running 24/7, a $200 credit will give you ample opportunity to try out the whole new world of cloud computing for yourself.  And so long as you remember to cancel your account, or stop using it, when your free credit has expired, it won't cost you a dime.

 

 

 

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Comments

Thanks for the heads-up, Rob, but I call a FOUL on this post: Since it refers only to a limited trial of Azure that even requires payment information, this ain't not no "freeware".

That said, I signed up for a 30-day trial of Azure two months ago and, once that expired, continued with their "Pay As You Go" Plan. Not having used it, I have incurred $0.00 in expenses, exactly as you advised. All-in-all, a good learning experience for me.

I'll try but doubt that I can take advantage of this more flexible, dollar-defined trial, having had a trial before.

No one said this was going to be easy. Have you seen all the options on the website? How does one know which options are needed? Very confusing!

There are tutorials available online. MC - Site Manager. http://windowsazure4beginner.com/

Thanks for the suggestion. I'd like to try it, but...

* The link takes us just to the general Azure home page with what looks like more choices than I want to explore right now - it's clearly aimed at businesses rather than consumers. Can you provide a more specific link to the actual offer.

* I'd also hope you can provide links to tutorials on how to do this the first time for those not comfortable with VMs. For instance.
How would I set up a VM running Win8 and install [edited out] on it to be able to work remotely?
Do I need to do all this locally and then upload a file or can it all be done online?

* Finally, for the cost-conscious types, how easy is it to shut down and open up VM's. Could one set up a local macro of some sort to make it painless?

Maybe all I need is a link to a place where all this sort of thing is set forth.

"Best of all, if everything goes wrong..." lmao! Hey, it's Microsoft....how can it not go wrong?