Windows Azure Store Premiers as Microsoft Touts Cloud as Dev Backbone

Microsoft announced the release of a preview of its Windows Azure Store as the company touted the cloud OS as the back end for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft gave developers a taste of things to come with Windows Azure by delivering a preview of the new Windows Azure Store and demonstrating how Windows Azure can provide a common back end to power Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.

The preview of the Windows Azure Store includes a catalog of app services, ranging from monitoring and scaling, to mail delivery to databases.

"We're releasing our Windows Azure Store this week," said Scott Guthrie, a Microsoft corporate vice president. The store is a list of services from Microsoft's partners that users can purchase, including services from the likes of AppDynamics, Aspera and New Relic, among many others.

During Day Two of its primary developer conference, Build 2012, here on the Microsoft campus, the software giant gave developers what they've been looking for—lots of code-filled examples of how to move ahead with Microsoft tools and technology. Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's server and tools business introduced developers to using Windows Azure as the back end to creating apps for Windows and Windows Phone.

Nadella, along with Guthrie and other Microsoft cloud and developer luminaries, demonstrated how to build apps that take advantage of Microsoft's cloud services.

"If you want to create device-centric apps … and you want to span Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, the best way to do that is to put that in the cloud," Nadella said.

Capitalizing on Microsoft's Cloud Services

"We want the Cloud OS to be the platform any developer will want to build on," Nadella said in an Oct. 31 blog post. "As part of that commitment, today we also announced a series of updates for Windows Azure, including Website language support for .NET Framework 4.5 and Python, making this service even more open for developers, the preview of the new Windows Azure Store and the availability of Visual Studio Team Foundation Service."

Indeed, Nadella spoke of the need for improved application lifecycle management (ALM) as part of the team development process.

"Any talk of cloud-scale apps is going to be incomplete if you don't talk about the lifecycle of DevOps," he said. With that he announced the general availability of Team Foundation Service (TFS) and introduced Jason Zander, another Microsoft corporate vice president, to demonstrate some of the new capabilities. As an ALM tool, Team Foundation Service includes agile project planning and management tools, version control, build automation and continuous deployment automation.

"We're working together as a team and one of the things we need to do better is coordinate all of that," Nadella said of TFS. "We're having a tremendous amount of traction with the enterprise adopting Azure," he said.

Nadella also wrote: "Inside Microsoft the cloud momentum and focus is real and palpable. We are building some of the most diverse Internet-scale workloads in the industry: SkyDrive, Office 365, XBOX Live, Bing, Ad Center, Dynamics … the list goes on. All of this has pushed us to reimagine the Windows back end, to re-examine the core hardware abstraction at the data center and multi-data center level, as well as building a new modern application platform. We call this the Cloud OS. What the Cloud OS means to the developers at Build is that regardless of their preferred language, tool or framework, Windows Azure is the most complete platform to build on."

Microsoft also announced the extension of Windows Azure Mobile Services to include support for Windows Phone 8, in addition to Windows 8 on which third-party apps such as USA Today depends, Nadella said. Windows Azure is the back-end engine that makes it possible to provide push notifications (USA Today headlines, money and tech) on a single framework that supports multiple formats while allowing the apps to be distributed broadly through the Windows Store, he said.