App developers can now use Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform to store data, authenticate users and send push notifications, company representatives said today at its BUILD 2013 developer conference.
Called Windows Azure Mobile Services, the new offering works with WIndows, Windows Phone, Apple iOS and Google Android apps, with native software development kits and HTML5 support, as well as REST application programming interfaces.
Windows Azure Mobile Services is free for a month until August 1, after which Microsoft will charge for it on a monthly basis with three tiers.
Microsoft has also added a feature Amazon's Web Services has, namely auto-scaling to match demand. Auto-scaling along with alerts and application health monitoring are available in preview for Windows Azure Web Sites, Cloud Services and Virtual Machines with no additional charges as of yet.
General availablility of Windows Azure Web sites was also announced by Microsoft. This service supports multiple frameworks and coding languages, ranging from ASP.NET to PHP and Node.JS to Python, along with WordPress, Drupal and multiple databases, to build and manage web applications.
More virtual machine images are also available for Windows Azure, including SQL Server 2014 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview versions.
Developers were also shown the Windows Azure Directory offering which can be used to enable single sign-ons for users.
Microsoft is a late-comer to cloud computing, and has been scrambling to catch up with providers such as Amazon and Rackspace over the past couple of years with the Windows Azure offering.