Microsoft Delivers Windows Azure SDK, Tools Refresh

Microsoft updates its Windows Azure software development kit and Windows Azure tools for Visual Studio. New features include better integration with Visual Studio and support for Silverlight debugging, among other things. Meanwhile, as the new Azure SDK does not work properly on Microsoft's new Windows 7 beta, a Windows Azure team program manager offers developers advice on how to overcome that.

Microsoft has released an updated software development kit for its Windows Azure cloud offering and has delivered some advice on how to run the Windows Azure SDK on the Windows 7 beta.

In a blog post on Jan. 14, Microsoft's Windows Azure team said:

"Today, in less than three months since its announcement, Microsoft's Windows Azure team has announced a refresh to the Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure tools for Visual Studio. The Community Technology Preview (CTP), announced at Microsoft's PDC -08 event in October, was launched to gather feedback from the Developer community, and this updated SDK and tools release is one way Microsoft is incorporating feedback in the Windows Azure offering."

The newly announced SDK and tools include improved integration with Visual Studio; performance improvements with execution and debugging scenarios; improvements to Storage Client and ASP.Net provider samples; added support to debug Silverlight in a Web role; and bug and performance fixes based on customer feedback.

In a separate blog post on the updated Windows Azure SDK, David Lemphers, a senior program manager on the Windows Azure team, asked, "What's hot in the new refresh?" and then answered his own question with:

"Well, first we fixed a pesky little problem with VS hanging when you hit F5. For some customers, this ended up locking up the environment and you had to kill VS to get it all sorted, this is a huge fix. We also fixed the limitation of using special characters in entities, which affected some update or delete operations. There has also been a bunch of performance fixes, so the overall user experience feels a lot nicer compared to the PDC release."

In a more recent blog post, Lemphers talks about how parts of the Windows Azure SDK will not work on the Windows 7 beta.

"First, there is an issue with running the SDK (not the tools) on Windows 7 Beta," Lemphers said. "Essentially, you can install the SDK, but when you try to run your project on the local developer fabric, it will fall over."

However, both the Windows Azure and the Windows 7 teams are working to solve this problem, he said.

Yet, in the meantime, developers can follow Lemphers' advice:

"My personal approach was to download the VSTS 2008 SP1/TFS SP1 free trial VPC (it expires on the 31st of December, 2009, which should give us enough time to sort the issue out ...), install the SDK on that, then run that inside Virtual PC 2007 SP1. "