On October 21, Amazon.com announced a new, free entry-level tier for new Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers.
Is Microsoft going to retaliate, I wondered. Perhaps.
Amazon announced that new users will will be able to run a free Amazon EC2 instance for a year, "while also leveraging a new free usage tier for Amazon S3, Amazon Elastic Block Store, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing, and AWS data transfer." The company is calling the new offering its free usage tier.
In January 2010, Microsoft asked developers for feedback on what they wanted to see in Windows Azure. The current and potential Azure developers spoke: Lower pricing.
The No. 1 suggestion was: “Make it less expensive to run my very small service on Windows Azure.” The No. 2 suggestion, in terms of votes, was also pricing related; It’s continue to offer Azure free to developers.
Microsoft subsequently created introductory offers for its Azure cloud services to entice new users to kick the tires of its cloud offerings.
I asked Microsoft officials whether they had additional plans to counter Amazon's new offer. A spokesperson sent the following response:
"It’s important to provide developers everywhere with broad access to try out the Windows Azure platform and begin to explore the kinds of innovative applications they can build. Stay tuned for more updates at PDC."
Microsoft's PDC 2010, or Professional Developers Conference, is happening next week -- on October 28 and 29 -- in Redmond, Wash. Microsoft is focusing primarily on Windows Azure, Windows Phone 7 and the future of programming languages, according to the session list for the conference, which Microsoft posted this week.