Microsoft eliminates data upload costs for Azure

In just over a week, it will no longer cost money for bandwidth for inbound data transfers into Microsoft's cloud platform, Windows Azure.The pricing tweak, announced on Thursday and effective from 1 July, means Microsoft has eliminated the bandwidth cost of moving datasets into the Azure cloud, though storage costs will have to be paid.

In just over a week, it will no longer cost money for bandwidth for inbound data transfers into Microsoft's cloud platform, Windows Azure.

The pricing tweak, announced on Thursday and effective from 1 July, means Microsoft has eliminated the bandwidth cost of moving datasets into the Azure cloud, though storage costs will have to be paid. The offer applies to both peak and off-peak usage.

"In essence, it's really to make it simpler to get started [in the cloud]... and make it easy for people to cost how they're going to use [it]," Michael Newberry, Windows Azure Lead for Microsoft in the UK, said.

Azure's cloud rival Amazon Web Services had a similar offer in the summer of 2009, though it put a limit on this and resumed charging for inbound data on 30 June, 2010.

According to Newberry, Microsoft has no timetable for ending the free bandwidth arrangement.

It extends to web-based applications into which consumers can upload data. Under the revised pricing, an Azure-based site for hosting photos would not carry bandwidth costs for data uploads, for example.

"There will continue to be a storage charge, but no bandwidth charges from Microsoft for incoming data (of any type)," a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement.

This pricing tweak follows on from Microsoft's free Azure trial, which is set to expire on 30 June, 2011.