Microsoft Launches Azure for Student Developers

Microsoft's new program provides students with free access to the company's Azure cloud platform, along with tooling and other support.

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Microsoft recently launched its new Microsoft Azure for student developers offer, which gives students free access to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

The Microsoft Azure for students offer is being administered through the company's Imagine program. Through the program, Microsoft reaches out to student developers and holds an annual Imagine Cup competition awarding top student developers from all over the world.

"This new Microsoft Azure offer enables students everywhere to explore and expand their development skills in the cloud," said Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Developer Platform & Evangelism and chief evangelist for Microsoft, in a blog post on the offer. "It supports the mission we outlined with the launch of Microsoft Imagine: to connect student developers with the tools and knowledge needed to create, code and bring their ideas to life. It's not just about the creative spark, but about the ability to turn those ideas into something tangible, like a website or a web app or a cloud service."

Guggenheimer said student developers are growing up in a world that requires them to leverage cloud services to deliver cool and modern experiences. "Microsoft Azure is a great fit for students, because of its speed and flexibility enabling the creation and development of websites and web apps," he said. "This new offer for students, available today in 140 countries, gives young developers access to the latest technology, allowing them to develop in or deploy sites and apps to the cloud, at no cost and with no credit card required."

The Microsoft Azure offer for students makes it easier for students to build Websites and Web apps in the cloud. For example, Azure App Service Web Apps enables students to build, deploy and scale Web apps in seconds, whether they're programming in ASP.NET, Java, PHP, Node.js or Python, Guggenheimer said. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Application Insights feature gives students a 360-degree view across availability, performance and usage of ASP.NET services and mobile applications for Windows Phone, iOS and Android, he said.

"This [offer] gives every student completely free access to Microsoft Azure," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group, in a video about the offer. "And they can use this offer to sign up for free with no credit card, no billing, no payment, and build and scale applications all around the world. They can take advantage of cloud computing, they can take advantage of our Web App functionality to build web sites and web applications using any language—whether it's .NET, PHP, Python, Node.js, Java, you name it. And you can also take advantage of Visual Studio Online and all of our back-end developer services, as well as our Application Insights, which gives you real-time analytics."

The quickest path to developing for Microsoft Azure is through Visual Studio Online, Guggenheimer said. "Visual Studio Online is the fastest and easiest way yet to plan, build and ship software across a variety of platforms," he said. "Students can get up and running in minutes on our cloud infrastructure without having to install or configure a single server. And of course VS-Online is also available as part of this new student offer."

Microsoft has long been working to empower student developers with tools and support through the Imagine program and related efforts like DreamSpark. In December, Microsoft announced it was opening up the Imagine program to students of all ages.

In a separate post on that issue, Guggenheimer noted that Microsoft has been supporting student developers in universities for many years with great programs like Imagine Cup and Microsoft Student Partners, which have provided free tools, contests and opportunities for aspiring professionals. However, today technology is being embraced by younger and younger students who are learning to use touch devices for apps and games before they even learn to read. Microsoft has helped students around the world learn to not just use apps and games, but to begin making their own, he said.

"We want to empower students of all ages and skill levels with the right tools, projects, and opportunities so that they can learn to create, code, and develop," Guggenheimer said. "Whether it's a ten-year-old making her first game or a university senior building projects for their first job application, Microsoft can provide what they need, for free, today."