Microsoft looks to simplify adding Azure cloud support to Windows 8 apps

Microsoft looks to simplify adding Azure cloud support to Windows 8 apps

Summary: A preview of Windows Azure Mobile Services is available to Windows 8 developers, with additional support for iOS, Android and Windows Phone coming soon.


Microsoft is looking to make it easier for developers to add back-end Windows Azure support to their client and mobile applications, starting with those running on Windows 8.



The new Windows Azure Mobile Services capability -- a free preview of which was announced by Microsoft on August 28 -- is the vehicle for this.

Update: To try this out, those with an existing Azure account will need to request to enroll in the preview. Those signing up for a brand new 90-day free trial of Azure will just be able to access the new preview automatically. Another caveat: "During preview, Mobile Services are free for your first ten Windows 8 applications running on shared instances." 

Azure Mobile Services allows developers to "easily store structured data in the cloud that can span both devices and users, integrate it with user authentication, as well as send out updates to clients via push notifications," explained Scott Guthrie, now Corporate Vice President, Program Management for Server and Tools, in a blog post announcing Windows Azure Mobile Services.

Microsoft is planning to go beyond Windows 8, adding support to Azure Mobile Services for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices "soon." (I've asked company officials for further delivery-time clarity.)

The new services make it "incredibly easy to connect client applications to the cloud, and enables client developers who don’t have a server-code background to be productive from the very beginning," Guthrie said. "They can instead focus on building the client app experience, and leverage Windows Azure Mobile Services to provide the cloud backend services they require."

Over the past several months, the Azure team has been rolling out mobile toolkits for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. These toolkits also aimed to simplify the connection of Microsoft- and non-Microsoft-developed mobile platforms to Windows Azure. I've asked whether the new Azure Mobile Services are designed to complement or replace these toolkits. If and when I hear back, I'll update this post with Microsoft's answer.

Update No. 2: Yes, the new Azure Mobile Services capability is going to supersede the multiplatform mobile toolkits, a spokesperson confirmed. Here's the official statement:

"The Windows Azure mobile toolkits were the first iteration of support for the Mobile + Cloud scenario.  ]We have incorporated the learnings and feedback from those efforts into Windows Azure Mobile Services. Future improvements will be channeled into Windows Azure Mobile Services rather than the original mobile toolkits."

Microsoft posted a Channel 9 video of Guthrie demonstrating how to use the Windows Azure Mobile Services preview. There's more information on the Windows Azure Mobile Services development portal, as well.

Topics: Cloud, iPad, Microsoft, Smartphones, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • The naming problem

    This is an example of the problem with calling Metro apps "Windows 8 apps". When Guthrie talks about Windows 8 apps, does he mean just Metro apps, or also desktop applications? Guthrie says "client and mobile applications". It's really impossible to know what he means, because Microsoft has done such a poor job naming their products.
    • Probably just WinRT APIs for this announcement.

      I believe he means Metro ( == Windows Store == WinRT API ) apps only:

      "In this regard, one of the top areas of feedback we’ve received from developers is the desire for a turn-key set of services that can be easily consumed from their device apps, without building, deploying, and managing their own services. Addressing this need, today we announced a preview of the new Windows Azure Mobile Services. The release includes client SDKs for Windows Store apps written in JavaScript, C#, Visual Basic, or C++, and provides capabilities around storage, push notifications, and more (including the ability to write JavaScript scripts that run on the server)."
      • Metro

        I use the word "metro" and most of my friends use "Metro". Doesnt microsoft know old habits die hard? Metro sound better than other words. I know Microsoft doesnt want to screw up the launch by getting involved in a legal fight and bad press by anti-microsoft pseduo tech journalists. I dont see MetroPCS changing its name to ModernPCS.
    • exactly.

      I said this at the time rumors broke out the name change: this is no way to change Metro to anything else. Some kind of never known company doesn't change the name. The name has grown in devs mind and heart over the pass two years. We are going to call it Metro Style Apps, no matter what ScottGu or whoever say it. One more thing: msft is pushing devs to use HTML/JS, let me say this plain and simple, there is no way devs will embrace html/js as a programming language for Metro apps. C++ for the client, .NET for the server.
  • Metro


    Can we call the apps metro? We are used to the word Metro.
  • Hidden Treasure Trove

    Combine this with the point-of-sale integration capabilities from SubtleData (also on Azure) and mobile developers can create some incredibly impactful mobile apps for retail businesses.
  • cloud

    to all that use the cloud you are unsafe you are putting your info on some one else computers servers and they are computers to and i hate to say this but they have been hacked by hackers i lost my info because a dumb doctor put my info in the cloud and 1100 people are sueing him now