I think the Windows Azure team never sleeps because they keep releasing new features at an incredible pace.
Last week Scott Guthrie announced some great enhancements to Windows Azure:
- Dev/Test in the Cloud: MSDN Use Rights, Unbeatable MSDN Discount Rates, MSDN Monetary Credits
- BizTalk Services: Great new service for Windows Azure that enables EDI and EAI integration in the cloud
- Per-Minute Billing and No Charge for Stopped VMs: Now only get charged for the exact minutes of compute you use, no compute charges for stopped VMs
- SSL Support with Web Sites: Support for both IP Address and SNI based SSL bindings on custom web-site domains
- Active Directory: Updated directory sync utility, ability to manage Office 365 directory tenants from Windows Azure Management Portal
- Free Trial: More flexible Free Trial offer
The one feature I liked the most(and my credit card will agree) is the Per Minute Billing and No Charge for Stopped VM's. Before when you stopped a VM(without deleting it), Microsoft continued to bill you for the VM. With this update, when you stop a VM you are longer charge you any compute time for it while it is stopped. And all deployment data and configuration is safely stored.
The other one is that the pricing model changed from per-hour to per-minute. Before when you ran a VM for 6 minutes, you would still be charged for a full hour of usage. With the new pricing model, you only pay for the actual 6 minutes of compute usage.
Keep going guys!