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You came for the free tools, stayed with your credit card – Amazon's new cloud brainwave

Lure them in with freebies, get 'em hooked on AWS

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Amazon Web Services has pressed a hundred products within its vibrant software ecosystem into a monthly try-before-you-buy scheme.

The AWS Marketplace Free Trials giveaway was announced by the company today. Tools and servers from SafeNet, Compuware, Barracuda, Riverbed and others will become available as time-limited, free trials for admins.

These products can be paired with Amazon's low-powered Free Usage Tier so developers can get applications up and running on Bezos & Co's cloud for the low, low price of zero bucks.

The catch is that after 30 days, the trial software starts charging to the Amazon account associated with the free-usage tier.

"You'll automatically be converted to a paid hourly subscription (we’ll send you an email beforehand). You can cancel your evaluation at any time," Amazon wrote in its blog post announcing the giveaway. The offer revealed today is separate to vendors' own 15 or 60-day free trials on AWS.

As cloud rivals Microsoft and Google ramp up, Amazon has been forced to cut prices, introduce new servers, and compete to win developer allegiance. Its strategies have ranged from copying third-party products and adding new services unavailable on other clouds, to running various special offers.

Amazon is trying to bulk up the software marketplace that rides atop its capital-intensive data-center-based service and, in doing so, bring more customers in and discourage them from leaving.

Though the scheme may be handy for cash-strapped developers who want to play around with typically pricey tools, don't expect it to be easy – Amazon's typical stodgy site design means there's no easy way to search for products that fall within this giveaway. ®

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