Amazon brings Windows to free cloud offer

Amazon Web Services has made it possible for developers to run Windows Server 2008 R2 on its cloud for free.The offer, announced on Sunday, brings Windows to the company's free usage tier deal, which gives people access to a low-powered Amazon Web Services (AWS) virtual machine.

Amazon Web Services has made it possible for developers to run Windows Server 2008 R2 on its cloud for free.

The offer, announced on Sunday, brings Windows to the company's free usage tier deal, which gives people access to a low-powered Amazon Web Services (AWS) virtual machine.

"This is an easy way for Windows users to start learning about and enjoying the benefits of cloud computing with AWS," AWS wrote in a blog post. "You can use this instance to learn about Amazon EC2, support a development and test environment, build an AWS application, or host a web site (or all of the above)."

If developers sign up they can run a copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 — or Linux — for up to 750 hours a month, and a host of complementary storage, database and networking services.

"We've fine-tuned the micro instances to make them even better at running Microsoft Windows Server," Amazon wrote.

Amazon began offering a free usage option in October, 2010. Microsoft followed this in February by revamping its Windows Azure cloud trial to include 750 hours a month of free access.

Because AWS is an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud, compared to Windows Azure's platform-as-a-service, developers can run a variety of operating systems on the AWS cloud but with Microsoft are restricted to programs intended for the Azure operating system.

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