Windows Azure is the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. It provides developers with on-demand compute, storage, and bandwidth, and a content distribution network to host, scale, and manage web applications through Microsoft data centers. More and more organizations use Windows Azure to deploy services that deliver high value without requiring the significant capital expenditures of an on-premises infrastructure.
Many groups at Microsoft—from product and service groups to partner support programs—are taking advantage of the Windows Azure platform to develop and host their own applications and services. Here are summaries of how the Microsoft Live@edu team, the Microsoft Office Product Development Group, and the Microsoft Partner Network used Windows Azure to promote and enhance Microsoft solutions and help support consumers, enterprise customers, educational institutions, and Microsoft technology partners.
Microsoft Live@edu: Help Educational Institutions Introduce and Promote New Services
Microsoft Live@edu services helps educational institutions provide more than 15 million students worldwide with free* hosted email, communication, and collaboration services. Schools use Live@edu to connect students to Microsoft Outlook Live and Microsoft Office Web Apps—online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
Institutions that adopt Live@edu need to promote the service to students, staff, and alumni, so the Microsoft Live@edu team used Windows Azure to package and host the Live@edu “Promote on Campus” online tool. The tool uses Microsoft SQL Azure to store localized file information and Windows Azure Storage to house promotional materials. With Promote on Campus, educational institutions can easily download customizable marketing materials and kits they can use to introduce Live@edu, and help students activate and make the most of their accounts.
The Promote on Campus page is localized in 16 languages and available in 130 countries. It includes nearly 2,000 pieces of marketing content and offers features such as content filtering and high-fidelity preview images to enhance usability. In the three months after Promote on Campus was launched, schools used the tool to download material more than 1,000 times, and visits to the “Promote” page on the Live@edu website increased 63 percent over the previous year.
With Windows Azure, Live@edu is helping schools quickly and inexpensively promote their Live@edu services so they can successfully drive adoption and usage of tools that students can use to create, edit, and share work, while developing the skills they will need in their future careers.
Office POSA: Introduce More Choice and Flexibility for Consumers
The Microsoft Office Product Development Group wanted to provide consumers with more choice and flexibility in how they purchase Microsoft Office 2010 and other Microsoft solutions. Microsoft worked with PC manufacturers and retail outlets to introduce point of sale activation (POSA) Product Key Cards that consumers can buy and use to download versions of Office 2010 over the Internet or activate Office 2010 software that has been preloaded onto new PCs.
The POSA card is activated with the purchase value and the consumer can then use the card to unlock Office Home and Student 2010, Office Home and Business 2010, or Office Professional 2010 on their new PC. To build and host a web page where consumers can validate their POSA card and retrieve a Product Key that they can use to activate and register their software, the Office Product Development Group used the Digital Distribution Services engineered and operated by the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Information Solutions (MSCIS) group. The MSCIS Digital Distribution Services are powered with Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure.
The team used the MSCIS Digital Distribution Services to power additional Windows Azure portals that validate Product Key Cards for Microsoft Office 2010 for Mac and Windows Anytime Upgrade. The Product Key Card sites have provided service for more than 100,000 users. By delivering software with POSA Product Key Cards and online validation, Microsoft offers consumers a fast, simple way to purchase and install Microsoft solutions on new PCs, uses fewer resources for packaging and media, and reduces overhead costs for both itself and its retail partners.
The Microsoft Partner Network wanted to make it easier for independent software vendors (ISVs), solutions integrators, and developers to plan and build software, web, and mobile applications that are compatible with the latest Microsoft platform technologies. So the Microsoft Partner Network launched the Microsoft Platform Ready web portal that provides training, development, testing and marketing resources for Microsoft partners and all application developers. Microsoft Platform Ready resources are available to the public and there are no costs to join or to use the service.
Microsoft Platform Ready is built on and powered by Windows Azure and the Microsoft SQL Azure database management service. The website team integrated Live ID in the Windows Azure environment to authenticate users by connecting the logon process to the Microsoft Partner Network databases. The global site supports 17 languages and includes features such as automatic email reminders for participants in Microsoft Platform Ready programs.
Over 23,000 companies worldwide have registered and profiled applications on the website, and Microsoft Platform Ready receives an average of 28,000 visitors every month. By avoiding the cost of supporting the website with an on-premises infrastructure, the Microsoft Partner Network could invest more funds in marketing the Microsoft Platform Ready program. The website helps ISVs and other application developers streamline their development processes and accelerate their time-to-market, while providing a successful example for Microsoft partners who want to begin building applications with the Windows Azure platform.
For information about how other groups at Microsoft are using the Windows Azure platform to enhance services and respond to the business needs of their customers, visit:
* Access to and use of the Internet may require payment of a separate fee to an Internet service provider. Local and/or long-distance telephone charges may apply.