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Zend Technologies has updated its developer framework to improve the way PHP applications float on Microsoft's Azure cloud.

The PHP shop has released version its Zend Framework 1.10, claiming it lets developers easily call Windows Azure APIs from their open-source PHP applications.

Applications will be able to call the Windows Azure storage services, including Blob Storage, Table Storage, and Queue Service, which provide persistent and redundant storage. Developers, meanwhile, will start to be charged for using the Azure service from next Monday: February 1.

The PHP work's based on the Zend_Services_WindowsAzure component Microsoft contributed to the Zend Framework open-source project.

Microsoft's general manager for interoperability Jean Paoli said in a statement that Microsoft's contribution to PHP helped demonstrate the company's commitment to openness and interoperability.

Maybe, but Microsoft also knows it needs to bring on PHP and other open-source developers using non-Microsoft tools and languages to Azure if its cloud is to grow and thrive.

In a comment on the power of PHP, Microsoft in the last few years has also worked with Zend to improve the performance of PHP on Windows so open-source web applications are not deployed on Linux. PHP's used by millions of developers and is behind popular applications such as Drupal, MediaWiki, WordPress, Joomla, and SugarCRM.

Since Azure was unveiled more than year back, it has been Microsoft's strategy to attract developers using PHP and other open-source tools and languages.

Tim O'Brien, a Microsoft senior director of platform strategy, told The Reg in a separate interview: "We are building out the interoperability on the Azure side because despite everything we said about making our cloud play interesting to our existing set of customers and developers, there's a set of non Microsoft developers that don't want to learn C#, ASP.NET or Visual Studio, and we have to have an interesting offer for them so the interoperability stuff is front and center as relates to the could for us."

O'Brien was unable to provide an update on what other languages and tools Microsoft is working with to support Azure. Potential candidates include Ruby and Perl.

But he claimed Azure currently hosts "tens of thousands" of applications from third parties spanning web sites like WordPress - that's built using PHP - to business applications from consulting giant, and long-time Microsoft partner, Accenture. ®

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