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Microsoft floats fresh code for Azure

.NET and open source faithful called to cloud

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MIX 2011 Microsoft has delivered updated Azure software, while extending an offer that allows for free use of its so-called development cloud.

On Tuesday, Microsoft updated its Windows Azure SDK to simplify the migration, management, and deployment of IIS Web Server applications and servers to the online service. And in the next month, the company will update the Windows Azure AppFabric Caching service to speed performance of Windows Azure and SQL Azure applications.

Microsoft is also delivering completely new code. On Tuesday, it announced a community technology preview (CTP) of a service called Windows Azure Traffic Manager to balance the performance of your application in the Azure cloud when it's running in different geographies.

The company is coy about saying where the data centers running Azure actually live. But we know Microsoft operates data centers in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

Also, there's a preview of a service to stream video hosted on Azure that adjusts to different bandwidth conditions to reduce buffering and startup times. The Windows Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Internet Information Services (IIS) Smooth Streaming capabilities will deliver video to Silverlight, iOS. and Android Honeycomb clients.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has given people another three months to sign up for a bundle of free compute power and storage on Azure. You've now got until September 30 to get free access to 750 hours of extra-small instances and 25 hours of small instances on the service, 20GB of storage, 50K of storage transactions, and 40GB of data transfers per month.

This is the deal's second extension. In February, Microsoft had pushed out an earlier introductory offer until June 31 while - at the same time - chucking in extra-small instances. Microsoft is hoping to push open sourcers and other developers on its cloud rather than similar services from Amazon and Google.

On Tuesday, Microsoft also used its MIX conference in Las Vegas, Nevada to emphasize its love of open source code and those using it. Microsoft heavily plugged Orchard 1.1, the latest edition of the open-source content management system from the Outercurve Foundation, once Microsoft's CodePlex Foundation. ®

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