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Microsoft pumps up Azure cloud platform at Build developer conference

Microsoft has announced the general availability of several services associated with its Windows Azure cloud computing platform, as well as a preview version of Visual Studio 2013.

Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft's Server & Tools Business, walked attendees at the software giant's Build developer conference through several new developments in Azure, describing how the company has embraced an even faster cadence for releasing new server and cloud technology in recent years.

"There is not a device, a computer, or a sensor that's not connected and supported by the back-end," he said, promising a shift towards enterprise software talk after day one of Build 2013, when consumer platforms were the focus.

Nadella announced the general availability of Windows Azure Websites, a website and web application development platform using free server-side web frameworks like ASP.NET, which Microsoft has consolidated and improved as well. Windows Azure Websites has been in preview for more than a year and is the platform underneath more than 120,000 websites today, according to Microsoft.

The Azure team is also focused keenly on helping developers build more efficiently and dynamically for mobile, Nadella said in announcing the concurrent general availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services. In addition to more refined and improved tools, mobile developers will now have access to a free 20MB SQL database for developing mobile apps on the framework, courtesy of Microsoft.

Also new in Azure was the introduction of a preview version of Windows Azure BizTalk Services, new auto-scaling capability "baked into Windows Azure" which offers a basic set of rules for scaling datacentre compute capacity up and down as needed for cost savings, and the availability of preview versions of Microsoft's Visual Studio 2013 integrated development environment (IDE) and .NET 4.5.1.

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